BOSTON – Gordon Hayward loves video games, which has helped him pass the time while his dislocated left ankle injury in October still heals.
But it may prove to be more than just something to keep his mind off of the long road to getting back on the floor that’s ahead of him.
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It may become part of his rehabilitation.
In an article by Tom Haberstroh for Bleacher Report, the Celtics are reportedly looking into incorporating the use of video games into Hayward’s recovery.
“Virtual-reality stuff," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told BR. "We're trying to figure out a way to do some video games that can actually be of benefit to his basketball play."
The Celtics aren’t saying much about it because of a non-disclosure agreement they signed with a video game company, which prohibits them from addressing any specific details about the “project.”
It’s no secret that Hayward is an avid video gamer, so the idea of developing an aspect of his rehabilitation program that incorporates his passion for video games makes a lot of sense.
One of the things Hayward’s camp has stressed since his Oct. 17 injury in the season-opener at Cleveland was to make sure Hayward stayed as engaged as possible and that they would find ways to “liven up” his rehab process so that he can return to the floor fully healthy in as short a period of time as possible.
Part of his rehab involves shooting shots from the free-throw line and half-court, while sitting in a chair, which was something Celtics coach Brad Stevens said one of his coaching brethren Frank Vogel (now in Orlando) did when he was the Indiana Pacers coach and their star player at the time, Paul George, was on the mend from a knee injury.
And while Hayward is admittedly pushing for a return in the coming months, he understands a return this season or even for the playoffs is remote.
The Celtics have repeatedly said that they are not planning on Hayward returning to this season.
Boston received an $8.4 million disabled player exception for Hayward’s injury. Among the criteria to receive the DPE was that an independent doctor had to confirm that it would be “unlikely” Hayward would return prior to June 15.
For him to be back on the floor in time for the playoffs would mean he would be healed at least two months prior to that June 15 deadline.
While both the Celtics and Hayward acknowledge his return this season is unlikely, you won’t hear anyone in his camp or among the Celtics telling him there’s no chance.
“We’re not going to put a limit or cap on Gordon’s progress,” his agent Mark Bartelstein told NBC Sports Boston. “But at the same time, we’re not gonna put a number or date for him to come back, either. He’s attacking the process of getting healthier, trying to get better from one day to the next.”
And a new weapon – video games – just may speed that process along.