BOSTON – There is no denying the progress that Gordon Hayward is making in his recovery from a dislocated left ankle injury suffered on opening night at Cleveland.
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And while there’s a growing segment of Celtics Nation that feels Hayward will return in time for the playoffs, Danny Ainge reiterates Hayward’s progress has not in any way altered the timeline they have set for his return to playing.
“We’re just hoping that Gordon makes a full recovery and that he’ll be ready by next year’s training camp,” Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, told NBC Sports Boston. “Nothing’s really changed with him.”
Hayward is doing some spot-up shooting, but doing so without jumping which helps limit the amount of weight and pressure put on the injured ankle. In addition, he’s doing some jogging on an Ultra-G machine which is an anti-gravity treadmill that aids the recovery process by allowing athletes to jog while putting a limited (if any) amount of weight on the feet and thus, less pressure on the ankle.
"He's been so restricted," Ainge said. "He's been just biting at the bit to do more and more. And the doctors have been holding him back a little bit just to make sure everything's all healed. But now he's going to start running on the AlterG and that's a big step. And he's just taking more and more steps on the court as far as just getting full range of motion, toe lifts, and one step side to side, and things like that.
"But this next month will tell a lot."
Ainge can certainly understand the eagerness of fans to see Hayward back. But the team has maintained they will be as patient as possible when it comes to Hayward’s rehabilitation, stressing that there’s no need to rush him back soon.
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However, Hayward has attacked the process of rehabilitation in a way that may result in him potentially being able to return at some point this season.
All involve acknowledge that it’s a longshot at best, that he’s on the court this season.
So you say there’s a chance, huh?
That said, Ainge refuses to contemplate such a rosy scenario.
“It’s getting way ahead of ourselves,” Ainge said. “The guy is just barely starting to jog on an Ultra-G. That’s a long way from playing in playoff basketball. We’re planning on him being ready to go in training camp next year.”