NBA Rumor: Gordon Hayward Injury

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Hayward’s return from a third degree ankle sprain had an immediate impact. The Celtics won Game 3 in part thanks to his playmaking. But he went downhill from there, understandably so, according to a league source, who said the 30–year-old forward was “50-50” at best, and really in no position to impact a game. Through no fault of his own, Hayward’s time as a Celtic has never really taken off.

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Gordon Hayward returning for Game 3?

Barring a setback in pregame warmups, there’s significant optimism within the Boston Celtics that forward Gordon Hayward will make a return to the lineup for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat on Saturday night, sources told ESPN. Hayward has missed a month with a right ankle sprain, but has progressed in recent days to the cusp of a return on Saturday with the Celtics trailing the Heat 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.

If Hayward returns, Boston could play its five best players — Walker, Smart, Brown, Hayward, Tatum — in a centerless alignment that might help on the other end too. Alternatively, Robert Williams III, whom Stevens benched in Game 2, could lurk as a lob threat behind the zone. If Miami unleashes three-quarter pressure as a prelude to its zone, Boston can try to spring Walker with picks at half-court — giving him a runway to bust the zone before Miami locks it in. (The Celtics tried this a few times.)


The former All-Star wing was having a resurgent season when a grade III right ankle sprain knocked him out of the playoff opener against Philadelphia. The Celtics gave him a four-week timetable to return to basketball activities, which would be borderline unprecedented for a grade III sprain. The four-week mark comes just ahead of Game 2 of the Conference final, but it doesn’t sound like Hayward is close to hitting that mark. “He did a couple of non-contact, very light drills,” coach Brad Stevens said. “He’s out there doing individual work right now, but none of that stuff with any groups.”

Gordon Hayward returned to the bubble earlier this week after suffering a Grade 3 ankle sprain in round one against the Philadelphia 76ers. The forward cleared quarantine Friday afternoon, which allowed him to get shots up with the Celtics staff prior to the tip-off of Game 7. Stevens was asked about Hayward’s status following the team’s series-clinching win. “I think he’ll be back at some point in that series (vs. Miami),” Stevens said. “But I don’t know when.”

Sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews after the game that Hayward would be getting an MRI on his ankle later Monday to determine the severity of the injury. Hayward, who scored 12 points on 5-for-13 shooting with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals in 34 minutes, was trying to box out Sixers star Joel Embiid inside with about 3½ minutes to go in the fourth quarter when his right foot got twisted and he went down to the floor in a heap.

For a player who noted soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle at the beginning of the NBA’s return to play program in June, the Celtics will certainly proceed with an abundance of caution. Hayward prefers to play without an ankle brace on, but there is a good chance that is going to change once he eventually makes it back on the floor. But considering he is already planning to depart the bubble to attend the birth of his son at some point in mid-September, the Celtics may have to plan on a playoff run without him.

The four week return would be much earlier than the initial six week prognosis, which is partly because of quick healing, and partly by design. “I think as it’s steadily improving and can do more and more, you start to think coming back a little bit earlier,” Hayward said. “I think you set the timeline a little bit later than what you’re hoping for just so that you guys and everyone else isn’t like, ‘If you’re late like, what’s the deal?’”

Hayward added that he expects to be dealing with effects from the injury throughout the season. “It’s definitely something where, hopefully not the rest of the season, but certainly a lengthy part of the season, I’m going to have to continue to get treatment, continue to ice it and kind of manage some of the symptoms,” Hayward said. “I don’t want it to get hit again, but I’m sure it will get hit again, and when that happens it’ll be sore. So I’ll manage that. But it’ll be something I deal with for the rest of the year.”

The initial Celtics timetable had Hayward projected to return six weeks after the surgery just ahead of Christmas and there has been no adjustment to that plan as of now. “It’s still hard to say exactly,” Hayward admitted when asked about a return plan. “But we have some good days here at home where I can practice and really do the things I want to do and kind of feel it out and see how it responds. I did a lot on it today, so I think it’s going to be more sore. It might swell up, so hopefully as soon as I’m done here go ice it and get some of the swelling down and kind of just take it day by day.”

On Tuesday, Hayward practiced with the team — stepping aside for live run to be an official, according to Brad Stevens — but he did something resembling contact drills with Celtics coaches. “I played a little kind of like hybrid contact today with coaches and stuff,” Hayward told reporters. “It’s definitely sore and I think that’s something I’ve got to work through. I’ve got to work through that to make my hand stronger, and hopefully over the next couple of days I can do that and get it kind of more the same strength of my right hand. I think it’s going to be a little while, and plus I was right-hand dominant anyway. So it’s definitely going to probably not be the exact same, but get it more strengthened so the percentage is closer to my right.”

“It’s a drop in a bucket, for sure,” said Hayward, meeting with reporters before Wednesday’s game against the Washington Wizards. “Like I said, happy that it shouldn’t be that long. Obviously frustrated — it sucks watching and not being able to go out there and play, especially with the start that we’ve had. I think this time around, I’ll be able to run around, use my legs still, maintain my conditioning, which I’m very thrilled about and then be around the team, too. And kinda stay involved, which is good.”

Hayward said surgeons inserted both a pin and a plate at the fracture to both stabilize and expedite the recovery process. He will not travel at the start of Boston’s upcoming five-game trip out west and will have a follow-up with the hand surgeon in New York while waiting for clearance to travel. Hayward appeared in good spirits despite the injury. His splint is already covered in drawings from his two oldest daughters, Charlotte and Bernadette. Despite his advice on color choices, he maintained a “Daddy’s Always Happy” face when detailing what his daughters sketched.
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October 28, 2020 | 1:45 am EDT Update
Could Gordon Hayward be planning on a similar move this offseason? That’s the buzz according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who discussed Hayward’s future on the latest episode of The Lowe Post podcast. “There’s some buzz out there. And I can’t figure out what the buzz means,” Lowe said of Hayward’s potential free agency. “The buzz that I’m hearing is like the smoke, the smoke indicating that something is happening. I’m not sure what’s up, but I don’t think it’s a lock that Gordon Hayward is on the Celtics next year.”
Storyline: Gordon Hayward Free Agency
And yet, rumors are swirling from multiple plugged-in NBA people that, even without fully knowing how much money there will be to spend, some NBA teams are already coming to deals with free agents. From Brian Windhorst and Bobby Marks of ESPN, via NBA Sports: Windhorst: I have already heard of a deal that’s been agreed to. Who knows whether it’s true or not? Marks: I had one agent – because I was talking about his free agent and salary projections, right? And he said, “Hey, you’re really low. I’ve already got two offers from two different teams.”
As a result, Gordon’s intent is to keep plugging away. In a new appearance on The Ashley Nevel Show, the 31-year-old explained why he isn’t expecting any major changes this offseason. Among his comments: We’ve always been a team that’s had high expectations. Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen it for the last four years. You can’t forget, every team that we lost to, they ended up winning the championship.
For us, we definitely need to find ways to get over that hump. The chemistry could be better. … For us, we made a lot of change last year. We went small ball halfway through the season. … In the playoffs, it’s all about matchups. We’ve just got to be able to rally around the same group of guys, and build on more chemistry, and try to get better. Try to utilize everybody to play at their best. I think that’s going to make us better, in the long haul. I don’t think they’re going to rebuild this team. This team is good. I don’t care what a lot of people say, it doesn’t matter. Injuries and whatnot, we’ve seen it all here. We still win 50+ games, and we’re still going to be right there in the playoffs.
Lucas, thinking about the T-Mobile Center and fan support and even the Chiefs’ recent ascent, was all in. First, he sent out a tweet, sparking excitement. Then, days later, Lucas’ phone started to buzz once more. This time, folks were leading Lucas to a tweet that had been sent out by Chiefs superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The reigning Super Bowl MVP similarly was vying for the Raptors to call Kansas City their temporary home. “It got some traction,” Lucas said. “It’s Patrick Mahomes.” Lucas grew enthralled with the idea, asking himself this question: “What do we have to do to make sure our ducks are in a row?” He called officials at the Kansas City Sports Commission. He called Missouri and Kansas delegations, both Republicans and Democrats, and gauged their responses — and it was all positive.
Storyline: Kansas City Raptors?
Tuesday, conversations continued and grew into a written letter signed by U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt, Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran as well as U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II. Not only did they send the letter to Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA, but also it was directed toward Raptors ownership in hopes their effort, interest and potential were clear. “Here’s the thing: You don’t miss out on opportunities like this,” Lucas said. “You jump when you can.”