Estranged Thunder forward tabbed as interesting offseason target for Cavaliers

Oklahoma City Thunder v Cleveland Cavaliers
Oklahoma City Thunder v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Four months removed from their, then, splashy trade deadline decision to acquire Gordon Hayward from the Charlotte Hornets, the OKC Thunder are likely looking back on the exchange with serious regret.

From his poor production on the hardwood to his lack of chemistry with Oklahoma City's surrounding talents, though perhaps not all the forward's fault, Sam Presti's experiment with the former All-Star proved to be a complete and utter failure -- one in which he has taken total blame for.

Nevertheless, despite his shortcomings out in Loud City, heading into the offseason the impending free agent is someone who still finds himself receiving attention from opposing teams and fanbases as being a realistic target for front offices to pursue on the open market.

The latest organization to be floated as a possible option for Hayward's services is the Cleveland Cavaliers, as Cade Cracas of King James Gospel recently argued the 34-year-old to be a potential "offseason steal" for the franchise.

Cavs urged to pursue Thunder forward Gordon Hayward this summer

Citing the team's desires to add on more versatility to their rotation as well as their need to bring on more veterans with experience embarking on deep postseason runs, Cracas believes that taking a swing on Hayward could prove to be an optimal, low-cost decision for Koby Altman and company to make this summer.

"He would instantly propel the team's depth with leadership and experience having been with multiple teams during his career. He would also be able to mesh well in the Cavaliers' system which is going to be led by a new head coach next season.

Since his years with the Utah Jazz, Hayward's impact on the league has diminished, but at his best, he has still shown high upside as a veteran leader and solid forward option. While most contending teams need veteran talent but lack any financial flexibility, the Cavaliers will most likely have some portion of the non-taxpayer Mid-Level Exception to offer free agents. Though Hayward's value is lower than years prior, the Cavs could be the right organization to allow him to recoup his reputation and impact winning without such a heavy load that he risks falling back into his injury struggles."

Cade Cracas

Prior to making his way to the Thunder mid-season, Hayward found himself putting forth yet another solid campaign with the Charlotte Hornets, as he was posting impressive per-game averages of 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.6 assists while shooting 46.8 percent from the floor and 36.1 percent from distance.

As noted earlier, though the addition of the forward to OKC's rotation proved to be an absolute bomb, it's unfair to say that all of these misfortunes stemmed from Hayward alone, as he never found a consistent role within Mark Daigneault's rotation and, on top of that, it's never an easy task for a player to learn a new scheme and jive with new running mates on the fly, especially when said team has already achieved so much success.

With all this in mind, it shouldn't come as a shock that the 14-year pro is being viewed as a low-cost, high-upside commodity ahead of free agency, and, on the right team, he could prove to be of sound value.

As Cracas argues, considering they'll likely be losing frontcourt commodities such as Marcus Morris and Tristan Thompson in the offseason and are in need of "a facilitator-like" player to help run the offense when guys like Donovan Mitchell are catching their breath on the sidelines, the Cavaliers could prove to be one of such teams.