The horrendous injury to Boston Celtics star Gordon Hayward late last year may go down as one of the most graphic moments in NBA history.
Hayward, who signed with the Celtics this past offseason, suffered one of the most gruesome injuries possible only five minutes into his Boston debut against the Cleveland Cavaliers, when Kyrie Irving tossed up an alley-oop to Hayward, who landed awkwardly, snapping his left tibia and fracturing his left ankle.
Gordon has been working hard to rehab the injury as quick as possible, and is now managing to walk around normally, performing light workouts, and even managing to shootaround to keep the shooting arm in tip-top shape.
Obviously, Hayward would prefer to return as soon as possible to help out the second-seeded Boston Celtics in the playoffs this season, but ultimately, the Celtics have the final say if they plan to clear him or not when the time is right.
According to GM Danny Ainge however, speaking to the Boston Globe, the Celtics are adamant Hayward will be ready to go next season.
The Celtics do not want to place any pressure on Hayward to return this season when he has three more years left on his contract and essentially the same team will return next season. Still, the questions linger about Hayward because he continues to progress.
“We’re not planning on him playing this year. I think we’ve said that quite a few times, but people still want to ask and hold on to that hope, but we’re not planning on him coming back this year and we think he’ll be healthy and ready to go next year.”
Given that the Celtics have invested a lot of money into Hayward -- $128 million over 4 years -- it's not a surprise they don't want to take any risks with Hayward's health to try and rush him into the lineup this season.
Even without Hayward in the lineup, Boston has remained a favorite in the Eastern Conference behind the play of Kyrie Irving, and even if they don't go all the way this year, adding Gordon Hayward back into the mix for next season may prove to be the move that pushes them over the edge.