Gordon Hayward continues to make progress in his recovery from a dislocated left ankle and fractured tibia—loads of progress, actually.
Most recently, on Wednesday, Hayward divulged that doctors have cleared him to move around without his walking boot on a (hopefully) indefinite basis. As he told reporters, per ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg:
“The process is always fluid and can change at any time, but, for me, today was the day where I walk around without the boot at all,” Hayward told ESPN before giving a motivational speech to a group of teens and playing the video game Destiny 2 with them. “And so, I’m going to try to move forward without the boot. Depending on how my foot reacts, how much activity I’m able to do on it without it being sore, I could move back into the boot or I could never look back and never see the boot again.
“I’m just taking it day by day; today has been awesome so far without the boot.”
This update comes less than a week after Hayward admitted he still kind of hoped to return this season. With him resuming certain shooting drills, and with the Boston Celtics prepping for him to eventually join them on road trips, is it too much to expect, to hope, that he plays again in 2017-18?
Apparently yes, at least for now. Despite all the positive vibes emanating out of Boston, the Celtics still don’t expect Hayward to play again this year, per Forsberg:
The Celtics have maintained that they do not expect Hayward back this season, but Boston coach Brad Stevens said the team will not put limitations on what he tries to do. Stevens has made sure that Hayward has scheduled times for shooting and treatment each day, much like the other players on Boston’s active roster.
Holding Hayward out makes sense. The Celtics aren’t in danger of missing the playoffs, and bringing him back near the end of the year, when the playoffs are right around the corner or in progress, makes for an ill-timed learning curve. He hasn’t enjoyed the feeling-out process with his new teammates that he was supposed to get. That’ll matter in a seven-game postseason set.
At the same time, the Celtics aren’t ones to ignore the big picture. If they believe Hayward is ready to rock and that working off some rust this year will ensure he’s in full form for next season, neither team president Danny Ainge nor head coach Brad Stevens will be above compromising Boston’s title aspirations to make that happen.