Boston Celtics head coach, Brad Stevens, gave a definitive answer on Gordon Hayward’s season on Saturday when speaking to the media in Houston ahead of the Celtics’ meeting with the Rockets.
As reported by ESPN, Stevens said, “He’s not playing this year. I don’t know what else to say.”
There had been increasing speculation that Hayward would be seen on court in a Celtics uniform before the season was out. Recent videos of Hayward working out only heightened these discussions after the small forward broke his ankle during his Boston debut on Opening Day.
Patience. One goal.
— Gordon Hayward (@gordonhayward) March 2, 2018
Following such an horrific injury, the chances of Hayward returning to NBA action this season were always minute. Boston have the former Utah Jazz man under control until 2020 and were never going to take any risks with his health, particularly given the youthful roster. Next year is at least as good an opportunity for the Celtics as this season, but it’s still a bitter blow to hear Hayward’s absence confirmed.
Boston have put together a four-game winning streak after stuttering into the All-Star break. The offence is still over-dependent on Kyrie Irving, but their defence remains the toughest to break down in the whole of the NBA. The number one seed in the Eastern Conference is still only one game from their grasp.
While a Hayward return was always improbable, the prospect of him featuring – even if only briefly – in the playoffs could have been huge for Stevens’ team. With around 20 games to go in the season, though, Hayward is still only running on the alter-G anti-gravity treadmill.
The conspiracy theorists and speculators will no doubt continue to suggest Hayward will feature for Boston this season. Stevens’ latest update implies the chances of that are down to less than 1%, and perhaps puts a limit on what the Celtics can achieve in the playoffs, further heightens the reliance on Kyrie.