Boston Celtics All-Star forward Gordon Hayward is making serious strides to return to the basketball court sooner rather than later.
Okay, it’s still a long shot. But, just months after suffering a horrific ankle injury in the season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Celtics prize free agent signee appears to be on track, if not ahead of schedule, in both his healing and rehab programs.
While both Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens are doing their best to discourage any expectations of a return by the end of the season, Hayward’s progress is saying something different.
Just take a look at a video the Player’s Tribune posted via Twitter on March 2:
Now, there is no one who disagrees that it will take a while before Gordon Hayward gets back to his All-Star form, but looking at the video, it is hard not to believe he could give the team something this season.
It certainly doesn’t appear like Hayward is writing off a return just in time to help the Celtics make a playoff run. At the same time, like the caption under the video says, patience will be the key to his comeback whether it is next month or next season.
As draining as the start of the season was for Boston Celtics fans watching Hayward sit in shock with his foot pointing in the wrong way, there is optimism and hope that the season will end with No. 20 draining a jump shot in an actual game.
Before we get too excited
This is exactly the kind of excitement and hope both Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens are trying to limit and even control.
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Immediately after a video surfaced of Gordon Hayward rehabbing, Stevens reiterated that the star forward is not expected back this season.
"“I’ve said it all year, not coming back,” Stevens said prior to the team’s game against the New York Knicks last Saturday. “It’s the way I’ve operated. It’s the way we’ve looked at it.”"
To further back up Stevens stance on the issue, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports reported Thursday that he saw Hayward right before the All-Star break and while he was walking fine, his ankle was still swollen and purplish.
While that would make it hard to believe Hayward would be ready anytime soon, the video posted by the Player’s Tribune keeps a tiny bit of that optimism alive.
As far as the Boston Celtics go, the team is playing well and should make a deep playoff run without Gordon Hayward. A miraculous return won’t put them ahead of the Golden State Warriors or the Houston Rockets, but it would make them the talk of the NBA.
As poetic and dramatic as the league and its players can be, it seems like the Gordon Hayward story is trending in him standing on the basketball court in some fashion come the end of May or even early June.