Gordon Hayward on Wednesday will return to TD Garden for the first time since he signed with the Charlotte Hornets as a free agent in 2020, and he is expecting to feel some emotions about returning to his former home stadium.
Hayward signed a four-year, $120 million deal with the Hornets and in doing so departed not only from the team he spent three seasons with, but also from his college coach in Brad Stevens, who led Butler during Hayward’s time there. While Stevens no longer is coaching Boston, having moved to the director of basketball operations role over the summer, his presence remains a big part of Hayward’s connection to the club.
“I think I’ll choose to remember all the good moments that we had together,” Hayward told Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix. “Getting a chance to play for somebody (Brad Stevens) when you’re 18 and then play for somebody when you’re 30, I think that’s pretty cool and pretty special. He certainly helped me become the player that I am today. I owe him a lot. It’s pretty amazing that I got a chance and the opportunity to do that. It’s definitely going to feel some sort of way walking in (to TD Garden). I’m looking forward to it.”
Hayward has fared well in Charlotte and is coming off a season in which he averaged 19.6 points, his most since the 2016-17 campaign. Through 43 games for the Hornets this season, he is averaged 17.3 points with 4.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
The Hornets enter Wednesday’s clash at 24-20, in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.