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Detroit Pistons talking Gordon Hayward trade ahead of 2022 NBA Draft

Vincent Frank

The Detroit Pistons have already pulled off a pre-draft trade ahead of Thursday night’s event, sending Jerami Grant to the Portland Trail Blazers. Said trade netted Detroit cap space and a 2025 first-round selection, among other assets.

For the rebuilding Pistons, the idea has been to create both draft capital and financial flexibility as general manager Troy Weaver builds around star guard Cade Cunningham.

According to this note from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, the Pistons are now considering picking up the bloated Gordon Hayward contract from the Charlotte Hornets to add even more draft capital.

Givony reports that Detroit is high on former Memphis center Jalen Duren. With the Hornets willing to offer up either the 13th or 15th pick to rid themselves of Hayward’s contract, Detroit could end up being an ideal trade partner.

Of course, that might be reliant on Duren falling to 13. In our final NBA mock draft, we have him heading to the New York Knicks with the 11th selection. Even then, making a move of this ilk would make sense for a Pistons squad that could have north of $50 million to spend in free agency.

How a Gordon Hayward trade to the Detroit Pistons would look

gordon hayward trade detroit pistons
Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

The injury-plagued Hayward has two years and $61.58 million remaining on his current deal with a $30.08 million cap hit for the 2022-23 season. Getting rid of that salary won’t be a cheap task for Charlotte.

If Detroit were to pick up Hayward’s salary, it would want to send at least one contract the other way. That could come in the form of Kelly Olynyk and his $12.8 million salary for the 2022-23 campaign ($3 million guaranteed for 2023-24). A move of this ilk would still enable Detroit to target someone like Deandre Ayton or Jalen Brunson in free agency.

  • Detroit Pistons get: Gordon Hayward, 13th pick, future 1st-round pick
    Charlotte Hornets get: Kelly Olynyk

This would just make too much sense for Detroit. Acquiring two additional first-round picks as it continues a rebuild to take on Hayward’s deal represents nice value. Add in the fifth pick in Thursday’s draft, and that’s magnified further.

As for the Hornets, they are attempting to rid themselves of Hayward’s deal as a way to afford re-signing star free-agent forward Miles Bridges. The cost might be high. But Charlotte needs to do something of significance with its roster after losing in the play-in tournament each of the past two seasons.