The Charlotte Hornets could be without their top free agent acquisition, forward Gordon Hayward, for their first game of the regular season after the veteran suffered yet another injury during the team’s preseason loss to the Toronto Raptors on Monday, this time a fracture to his right (shooting) hand.
The injury is being described as an avulsion fracture of the fifth metacarpal of his shooting hand by the Hornets’ medical staff.
Hayward joined what seems like it could be an upstart Hornets team in the offseason on an absurdly large four-year, $120 million contract. Unfortunately, it seems the Butler product’s brutal luck with injuries hitched a ride with him from Boston to Charlotte, which is not good news for Michael Jordan and company.
The 30-year-old missed his team’s preseason contest with the Orlando Magic on Thursday, and is currently being listed by the Hornets as ‘day-to-day,’ which is pretty much sports- or coach-speak for, ‘we know it’s not too serious, but apart from that we have no idea.’ That may or may not bode well for his status for Charlotte’s season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers next Wednesday.
As of now, you can mark Hayward down as questionable for that game, though we know that isn’t a very helpful designation. Devonte Graham, LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, and Miles Bridges more than picked up the slack in a 123-115 win over Orlando and if Hayward is indeed out on Thursday, all four would likely be high-value daily fantasy (DFS) options against a Cavs defense that ranked in the bottom ten last season.
Since it’s their season opener, sportsbooks and sports betting sites have already put up odds for Charlotte’s first game of the season going up against a Cleveland Cavaliers team that has arguably served as the league’s doormat since LeBron James left a couple of years ago. Currently, the Hornets are actually slight underdogs at -107 odds on 888sport, which offers a decent amount of value considering their opponent.
Hayward will surely be working hard in rehab in the days leading up to Wednesday to ensure that he can be out there with his teammates, but the Indianapolis native has to be disheartened with his body’s inability to stay healthy for any extended period. Hayward played 66+ games in each of his first seven NBA seasons with the Utah Jazz—who drafted him ninth overall in the 2010 NBA Draft—before being traded to the Boston Celtics, which is where his injury woes began.
It started not six minutes into his stint with the Celtics, suffering gruesome foot and ankle injuries in his first quarter of regular season play with the team. Hayward rehabbed and came back the next season, but he didn’t look quite the same. Last season, though he again missed 20 games due to a litany of injuries, he looked a lot more like his Utah self, which is probably why the Hornets were willing to commit so much to him.
As part of the 2010 Butler basketball team (coached at the time by current Celtics bench boss Brad Stevens), Hayward helped lead his school to not only its first Final Four appearance, but its first appearance in the NCAA Title Game as well, which they lost to Duke 61-59.
Hayward rose to national fame after launching a final second heave from half court that bounced off the backboard and the rim before falling harmlessly to the hardwood, a play which has become one of the most recognizable in the pantheon of college hoops history ever since. Hayward has enjoyed limited NBA success since those Butler days, making the All-Star team just once, in his final year with the Jazz in 2017.