Gordon Hayward

Hayward on possible return: 'The hope is still there'

Hayward on possible return: 'The hope is still there'

Gordon Hayward insists he's focused on his recovery and isn't thinking about whether or not he'll return this season.

But he admits "the hope is still there" that he'll play for the Celtics this season.

"The hope is still there," admitted Hayward, who suffered a dislocated ankle in the first five minutes of the season opener. "It's something where I'm really, honestly not even thinking about it. I know we're getting toward the end of the year, so it's something I'm still working for. But if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen."

At the moment, however, he says he's thinking only about what it takes to get better.

"My thoughts are that I take it day-by-day," he said. "And I said . . . from the very beginning, that's what I would do. Not putting a timetable on it. Recovery's going well and progressing well. Was in the facility this morning, will be in the facility tomorrow, and that's kind of my goal. Just really focusing day by day . . . 

"Mentally's the biggest challenge out of all of it. I've been blessed to have the Celtics provide such a great training staff, have my trainer from Indianapolis come and be with me this whole time as well and blessed to have a family to help me get through it. I have a wife and two little ones. Going home to them makes it a lot better."

But even he's not thinking about whether he'll return, others are.

"Thousands of times," he said with a smile when asked if he's been asked about whether or not he'll come back. "Every single time I go out, people ask how's my ankle, am I coming back? So I get it all the time."

Ainge: Hayward doesn't think he'll return this year

Ainge: Hayward doesn't think he'll return this year

On Wednesday's Toucher & Rich radio appearance, Celtics play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman sparked a Gordon Hayward-will-return mania when he speculated that Hayward wouldn't be working out eight or nine hours a day if he wasn't preparing to play again this season.

On Thursday's Toucher & Rich show, Danny Ainge doused those flames.

"I don't believe that Gordon thinks he's going to play. I don't think so, no," he said on his weekly appearance on the 98.5 The Sports Hub program. And he explained why:

"[Hayward's] not even full weight-bearing on his foot doing anything yet," Ainge said. "He is on the AlterG (an anti-gravity treadmill), which is half his body weight, maybe up to 60 percent of his body weight. There's just a long way to go before he can get out on a basketball court.

"And then once he's 100 percent cleared physically, which he's not close to that yet, there's a long process of just getting your mind and your confidence in your foot and overcoming the mental part of it."

So why make such a big public deal of his workouts, as Hayward has been doing?

"I think that Gordon just wants to show everyone when he comes back next year . . . all the work that he put in to get back to who he was when he got here. [And attempt to become an] even better player than he was when he got hurt."


Celtics-Timberwolves preview: Coping with an injured superstar

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Celtics-Timberwolves preview: Coping with an injured superstar

MINNEAPOLIS – Similar in some ways, different in more that matter. 

That’s the only way you can look at the parallels some have tried to draw between the injuries to Boston’s Gordon Hayward and Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler.

Both are All-Star wing players who are playing with different teams this season than the one that drafted them. 

And both suffered leg-related injuries. 

But the significant difference is that Hayward’s dislocated ankle injury is expected to keep him sidelined for the entire season. 

Meanwhile, there’s a very good chance that Butler will be back in the Timberwolves lineup before the end of this month. 


Still, that shouldn’t diminish how much Butler has meant to the Timberwolves this season, and how his absence may very well be the unplanned break the Celtics need as they face off against Minnesota tonight. 

Butler was named an All-Star this past season and prior to his meniscus injury, a case could be made that he was playing at a borderline league-MVP level.

In 56 games this year, Butler is averaging 22.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. It’s the kind of across-the-board production that has made him one of the game’s top players, and difficult to replace.

“You can’t replace Jimmy individually,” said Minnesota head coach/president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau. “So we know we have to do it collectively. It’s an opportunity for other guys to grow. We have to play to our strengths, cover up our weaknesses and play with great tenacity.”

That’s certainly an apt description of Celtics basketball this season, which is on the doorstep of having the best record in the East despite playing all but five minutes of this season without Hayward, who suffered a dislocated left ankle injury in the season opener. 

The Timberwolves have seen from afar how the Celtics galvanized themselves in the days and weeks following Hayward’s injury, putting together a season of success that has Boston record-wise among the top teams in the NBA. 


Minnesota’s Jamal Crawford is one of the Timberwolves who has experienced what it’s like to have to pick up the slack when a key player is out of the mix. 

While playing for the Los Angeles Clippers, Crawford went through that on two separate occasions with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, respectively. 

Another Minnesota player, Taj Gibson, went through that in Chicago with Derrick Rose. 

That experience, Crawford says, will aid him in his efforts to help his youthful teammates navigate what’s expected to be a difficult and challenging period of time. 

“The more we lean on each other, the better we are collectively and the better chance we have of winning that night,” Crawford said. 

Injuries or not, Thibodeau is doing his part to make sure his team understands how important these games leading into the playoffs are for their future. 

“We have to be ready to play from the start,” Thibodeau said. “This is the time of year where everything is ramped up.”