Boston Celtics Rumors
Jay King: Kyrie on clutch Tatum: “Some people have it and some people don’t. It’s just as simple as that. I think he’s pretty much shown that he can play, as people say, with the big boys at the end of the game.”
Chris Forsberg: Stan Van Gundy on Jayson Tatum: “I’m not surprised. I thought he was the best prospect in the draft. He’s got all the tools.” But even he didn’t foresee this 3-point outburst: “Anybody who says they’re not surprised by his 3-point shooting … is lying.”
More than 50 days have passed since Hayward suffered his grisly injury, and on this night there are few obvious signs that it happened at all. His cast was replaced by a walking boot after two weeks, and now the walking boot is gradually being phased out in favor of a small, nonintrusive brace, which he is wearing now. Last week, he was told he did not need crutches anymore. On the court, he can now stand still and shoot baskets, a major step after weeks of firing them from a padded chair. As the Celtics stormed to a 22-5 start, it became tantalizing to wonder what they might be with Hayward. And given his consistent progress, and the fact that more than four months remain in the regular season, it is impossible not to wonder if there is a chance, however slim it might be, that he could be back this year.
Hayward admits that he thinks about it, too. But he immediately cautions that there can be dangers in looking far ahead. He has made this progress by tackling obstacles one by one, and he knows the last, most massive one remains distant. But yes, of course he is aware of it. Of course he would like to play for the Celtics this season. “It’s definitely in the back of my mind,” Hayward said. “I’m definitely pushing to get back as fast as I can, while making sure that I still have a lot of good years of basketball in me. And coming back early and hurting something else is not part of that plan. So I’m making sure that if I come back, I’m one-thousand percent confident in myself and my leg. 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.”
His return date, of course, remains unclear. The Celtics have been cautious, consistently saying they do not expect Hayward back this season. Hayward does not expect it, either. He does not like to think that far ahead. But he is also an undeniably fierce competitor, and there is no better motivator at the end of this long, trying journey than playing in an NBA game again. “I feel like for me it’s better to just tell myself, ‘Let’s be better today than I was yesterday,’ and then keep doing that day in and day out,” Hayward said. “And if it happens to get to the point where the season’s still going on and I can play, then, like, that’s awesome.”