After sitting out the 2017-18 NBA season, Boston Celtics star Gordon Hayward is expected to be “fully cleared” to take part in team activities by August.
Last year at this time, Boston Celtics fans were anticipating Gordon Hayward signing with the team as an unrestricted free agent. This summer, fans are anticipating a return from a gruesome lower leg injury that sidelined the star for all but the first few minutes of the 2017-18 NBA season.
With Hayward out, the Celtics rallied around veteran Al Horford and up and coming young stars Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier to come just minutes short of making it to the NBA finals. They made it that far while the 28-year-old forward underwent successful surgery to fix the broken tibia and extension rehab to get his strength back.
In ways, Boston’s season mirrored Hayward’s recovery. Considered down and out, the Celtics found ways to battle back in a season that was deemed lost. Like his team, Gordon Hayward took a bleak situation and turned it into motivation.
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After undergoing another successful surgery to remove a plate and screws from his healed lower leg, Hayward is just over a month away from completing the comeback he vowed he would complete.
Speaking to the Boston Globe on Monday, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens finally said those magic words fans have been waiting to hear: Gordon Hayward will be “fully cleared” come August.
"“Everything is good and pointed toward being back exactly where he was – hopefully pain-free, because that plate is taken out – in the middle of July, which probably points to an early-August, mid-August fully cleared time frame,” Stevens said."
This means there is optimism that Hayward will at least be physically close to the player who agreed to the four-year, $128 million contract with the Celtics last July. He will just need to get there mentally.
Kyrie Irving “still sick” about Gordon Hayward injury
Another Boston Celtics star who will be cleared this summer is Kyrie Irving.
In a recent appearance on “The Bill Simmons Podcast,” Irving made some interesting revelations. One of which was how responsible he felt for Gordon Hayward’s injury. On the play in which Hayward was injured, it was Irving who threw the alley-oop.
While freak accidents happen in the NBA and all sports, the Celtics point guard couldn’t help but muster some of the blame.
"“I’m the one that threw the pass for the alley-oop, and I was just like holding on to that for awhile,” Irving told Simmons, as transcribed by Boston.com. “I’ll take part of the responsibility because he wasn’t really open – I saw D-Wade (Dwayne Wade) over there…He just came down wrong, and I was like, ‘ah, [expletive].”"
Irving went to explain how losing Hayward was both a disappointment and an inspiration. It helped the younger players mature and also helped him be more of a leader.
With trade and contract rumors swirling, the Boston Celtics will be in a better position this season with those two players returning. That is, if Danny Ainge decides to stand pat.