In an interview with the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, Celtics wing player Gordon Hayward touched on several topics including the possibility of him returning to action this season.
"So I'm making sure that if I come back, I'm 1,000 percent confident in myself and my leg," Hayward told the Globe. "I hope more than anything I can play this season. That would be awesome. But that's not something I'm stressing about. I'm stressing about what I can do today to help myself get better."
While Hayward’s focus remains on improving enough to where the possibility of him returning this season is more than just hopeful thinking, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens reiterated that the Celtics are not making any plans for a Hayward return this season.
“He’s gotta find any motivation that he can find,” Stevens told reporters prior to today’s game against Detroit. “We’re certainly not going to put limitations on what he strives to do. That being said, we’re not planning on it (Hayward’s return this season). All that is really good; it indicates he feels really good where he’s headed and he should, and that he’s going to be fully healthy when he does get back on the court which he should. That’s the positive of it.”
Hayward suffered a dislocated left ankle injury less than five minutes into Boston’s season-opener at Cleveland onOct. 17. He underwent surgery afterwards and was expected to be out for the remainder of the season.
Boston was awarded a disabled player exception worth $8.4 million, the highest value ever for a DPE. The Celtics are likely to give serious thought to using it as the Celtics draw closer towards the trade deadline.
Also, the DPE is not impacted in any way if Hayward returns to action this season. Prior to being awarded the DPE, independent doctors deemed it “more likely than not” that Hayward would not return to action prior to June 15.