BOSTON (CBS) — With each step forward in his recovery, there is a growing optimism around Celtics fans that they’ll see Gordon Hayward take the floor at some point this season.
Hayward continues to work his way back from that devastating ankle injury he suffered on opening night in Cleveland, and just a picture of him without a walking boot is enough to throw Boston into a fit of hysteria.
But head coach Brad Stevens is here to douse out any hopes of a Hayward comeback this season.
“My mindset is he’s not coming back. That’s the way we’ve all approached it,” Stevens told Chris Mannix on Monday’s The Dan Patrick Show. “Gordon and I have never had a conversation about him coming back. It’s always been about how he feels and how he’s progressing.”
Stevens and the Celtics’ brass are constantly asked for Hayward updates, with many of those questions stemming from social media posts by Hayward’s wife, Robyn. While they may lead to more questions about a potential Hayward return, Stevens said that celebrating those baby steps is an important part of Hayward’s recovery.
But they certainly don’t mean he’ll be getting 20 minutes of playing time when March rolls around.
“You celebrate those small steps and those are big things. This was a hard injury, a hard thing to go through physically and emotionally. It’s good to celebrate those small steps, but I don’t think people should equate that to playing in an NBA game anytime soon,” said Stevens. “It’s a long, long journey back and there’s no way to rush that. You have to do it step-by-step and day-by-day, so I’ve never planned on [having him back].”