Coach Brad Stevens said Gordon Hayward is not returning to the court this season, but Celtics play-by-play commentator Mike Gorman isn’t quite convinced.
Gorman said Wednesday morning he thinks Hayward is rigorously working out with hopes of being ready to play at some point before the postseason ends. The Boston native explained his reasoning on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich:
Everybody tells me he is working out eight, nine hours a day, just religiously working out, doing everything they ask of him and more.
It seems to me if Gordon Hayward thought his next basketball game he was going to play in was going to be in next October, he might not be working out nine hours a day right now. He might be working out six. He might be working out and doing the minimum because he knows it’s a long-term thing.
I think he is working out with the idea that he can be ready by the end of the season. Whether they want to activate him, whether they want to play him or not, that’s a whole different question. But I truly believe that before the playoffs are over, we’ll see him in a Celtics uniform. I just believe it.
— NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSBoston) March 7, 2018
Including Thursday night’s game against the Timberwolves in Minnesota, the Celtics have 17 remaining regular-season contests — seven home and 10 away. The 2018 playoffs begin April 14, while the Finals begin May 31.
Although the Celtics have been vocal about Hayward’s encouraging progress and on-schedule full recovery, the team has not publicly expressed any expectation for him to return to the lineup this year. The 27-year-old has also penned a series of personal blog posts that offer no indication he has plans to play before the season ends, as much as he might want to.
Hayward’s dad, Gordon Hayward Sr., chimed in Wednesday evening, too. After organizing some pickup basketball following the Jazz-Pacers game in Indiana, he told Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News he doesn’t think a return is feasible.
“He’s working his tail off and if he could play that would be great,” Hayward Sr. said. “But I don’t think that’s really possible. He’s not even running or jumping yet.”