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Hayward: Lack of opportunity made Thunder stint frustrating

Cooper Neill / National Basketball Association / Getty

Soon-to-be free agent Gordon Hayward wasn't satisfied with how he was used by the Oklahoma City Thunder after arriving in a midseason trade.

"Disappointing with how it all kind of worked out," Hayward said during exit interviews Sunday a day after Oklahoma City's season-ending loss to the Dallas Mavericks, courtesy of Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman. "Certainly frustrating."

In 26 regular-season games with Oklahoma City, Hayward registered a career-worst 5.3 points per game as he took up a role off the bench after starting for four seasons with the Charlotte Hornets. His minutes were nearly halved from what he was accustomed to, going from 31.9 per game to just 17.2 under Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault.

"I feel, as a player, I have a lot to offer," Hayward added Sunday. "Just wasn't really given much of an opportunity to do that. I thought I would be given that opportunity."

The Thunder parted with Vasilije Micic, Tre Mann, and Davis Bertans, plus a pair of second-rounders, in order to acquire the 34-year-old forward and presumably help bolster one of the league's youngest squads with a veteran locker room presence. Hayward was also supposed to be another dependable scoring option off the bench.

However, Hayward seldom featured in the playoffs. He averaged 6.6 minutes through Oklahoma City's first seven postseason contests before being scratched for Games 4, 5, and 6 against the Dallas Mavericks in the team's second-round defeat. Hayward didn't score a single point throughout the postseason and attempted just three total shots.

"I think with the minutes that I was given - and like I said, the role that I was in -I think there might have been some possessions where I could probably have been more aggressive," Hayward said regarding criticism over his lack of shooting, according to Lorenzi. "But it's hard when you just get in the game and it's not like you're given an open shot, you're asked to - I've never really been the type of player to kind of just go one-on-one first time I get it, take a tough contested shot."

The Thunder will have an exclusive negotiating window with Hayward beginning the day after the last game of the NBA Finals. They can attempt to negotiate a new contract with the free agent before he's permitted to talk with all 29 other teams June 30 at 6 p.m. ET.

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