The Oklahoma City Thunder finalized a trade, sending Tre Mann, Davis Bertans, and Vasilije Micić to the Charlotte Hornets for Gordon Hayward.

Hayward fits the positional size, shooting, and ball handling required for an OKC addition. Health is a concern, but he’s a luxury add for OKC. This is a low-risk, high-reward kind of deal. Gordon Hayward has a 15 percent trade bonus worth $1.7 million. His $31.5 million salary will be adjusted to $33.3 million. Turning Bertans into Hayward feels like a plus for OKC. Hayward’s ability to space and drive fits right in with OKC’s style of play.

More Lineup Flexibility

I’m intrigued by the potential lineups. The closing lineups for OKC should be fun with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams, Chet Holmgren, Lu Dort, and Hayward. A closing lineup with Hayward instead of Josh Giddey will be even more challenging to defend with spacing. Either more space for SGA to work or open shots for Hayward and the others.

Hayward is a very flexible basketball player. He can start; I’m confident he’d accept a bench role here to keep the Thunder’s flow going. He can score from all three levels, is a great cutter, doesn’t need the ball, and has experience in motion-heavy offenses (Utah).

Not Trading For A Center And Impact On Cap Space

Many fans wanted to trade for a center, but Hayward fits the mold of what OKC is doing play-wise and from a team-building construct. While I understand why people want OKC to get a traditional big, we must point to their style of play working because they don’t have a formal big and don’t want them to change yet. The Thunder not getting a backup big is just as simple as their style of play is very effective the past two years, and they want to test the limits of it before they start adjusting, which is fair.

From the cap side, The Thunder will have significant cap space in the 2024 offseason. $94.6M in guaranteed contracts and $6.2M in non-protected salary. Salary cap projects to be $141M. There is a financial window before rookie extensions start for Holmgren and Williams in 2026-27.