The Boston Celtics still haven’t released an official statement shutting Gordon Hayward down for the season. Brad Stevens even has teased Celtics fans about a comeback.
But Danny Ainge made it very clear Thursday morning: Hayward isn’t playing until next fall.
“No. He’s not playing,” the Celtics’ president of basketball operations told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich” when asked if there’s any chance Hayward comes back during these NBA playoffs.
“He’s just not there yet. He’s not doing the sprints and explosion and lateral movements at basketball speed yet. He needs to be doing that for quite a while before he gets out on the court and plays in an NBA playoff game.”
Both Ainge and Stevens have been pretty firm of late that Hayward won’t return from the gruesome ankle injury he suffered last October in Boston’s regular-season opener. Still, there have been encouraging moments in the 28-year-old’s rehab, and even Hayward himself had left the comeback door slightly open if the Celtics manage to play into June.
So, does that mean the All-Star forward is behind schedule?
“No, I think he’s on schedule, and I’m not concerned,” Ainge said. “He’s making great progress. It’s just — we’re not taking any chances. You just can’t strap a guy up coming off of surgery like that who hasn’t played — we’re just not going to do that.”
Basically, it’s unofficially official: You won’t see Hayward on the court in these playoffs. For good measure, Ainge also confirmed Kyrie Irving is out for the entire postseason, which means the C’s are rolling with this current group the rest of the way.
Boston will host the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 2 on Thursday night looking to take a 2-0 lead in their second-round NBA playoff series.