Although Gordon Hayward continues to make encouraging progress in his rehab from a serious leg injury suffered in the Boston Celtics’ season opener Oct. 17, the organization still isn’t ready to seriously consider — at least publicly — whether the forward might be able to return this season.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge tweeted a photo Tuesday of Hayward standing next to a pool without a brace, and the All-Star retweeted the pic along with the eyeballs emoji. This understandably sent Celtics fans into a frenzy, because although Boston is working under the assumption that Hayward won’t be back until next season, the team hasn’t officially ruled out a potential return.
That said, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens cooled the buzz, to some extent, by saying Wednesday during a conference call that nothing’s changed with regards to Hayward’s rehab and that folks shouldn’t read too much into Ainge’s tweet. And Ainge threw more cold water on the chatter Thursday during a radio appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich” by providing very little additional information regarding Hayward’s status.
“I don’t know overall where he’s at in that (recovery schedule). I mean, this was the time, the three-month mark was the time to get out of the brace and to start walking,” Ainge said. “So we’ve been holding Gordon back — I think he’s been cheating on this a little bit — but he’s officially out of the brace now, and that was this week, so that was good news.
“Of course, he wants to (play this season). But that conversation has not happened and will not happen for a long time from now. We’re putting no pressure on that situation. We want Gordon healthy. Our mindset is still that he’s going to play next year. So nothing has changed in that regard.”
The Celtics have done just fine without Hayward, as they currently own the best record in the Eastern Conference. The possibility of adding someone with his talent late in the season sure is enticing, though, especially if other teams, most notably the Cleveland Cavaliers, continue to show vulnerabilities.
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