The odds that Gordon Hayward plays for the Celtics this season remain high, despite recent comments by Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge, given that Boston will likely still be playing basketball around or past Memorial Day weekend.
The Celtics will not risk bringing Hayward back by the end of the regular season, however, and it's highly unlikely that the swingman will see action in the first or second round of the playoffs. Given just how long and drawn out the NBA playoffs are, however, time may work in the Celtics favor here.
Having Hayward as the 12th man on a bench would at least give the Celtics' opposition one more thing to worry about, and he would make for one hell of a decoy. No matter what, Hayward won't be starting for the Celtics this season or logging big-time minutes as any and all action he sees will be limited. He would obviously be a liability on the defensive end, so if he does see any action it would likely come in the form of a late game or end of the quarter offensive situation.
The most optimism regarding a Hayward return during this year's playoffs came from Celtics play-by-play man Mike Gorman this week on 98.5 FM'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," Gorman said. "It seems to me if Gordon Hayward thought his next basketball game he was going to play in was going to be 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."
Before dismissing Gorman's opinion, it's wise to remember just how tied in to the inner-workings of the Celtics organization he is. Gorman was the first to drop a hint last spring that the Celtics were not enamored with consensus No. 1 overall draft pick Markelle Futlz, and a few weeks after Gorman dropped that line, also on Toucher and Rich, the Celtics traded the No. 1 overall pick to Philly.
Another reminder regarding a potential Hayward return this season is that in the immediate days after his injury last October - it was reported that Hayward suffered a "clean break" and that he actually return as early as March.
New information on Hayward surgery. As good as doctors could hope. Clean break, no ligament damage. Prognosis is good. Best case? March— Mike Lynch (@LynchieWCVB) October 19, 2017
Well, it's March - and we won't see Hayward soon. But two months from now the Celtics will be in the conference semi-finals. Based on that initial timetable, based on all the workout videos that have surfaced, based on the Celtics never officially having ruled out a return roster-wise and based on Gorman's intel - the odds of Hayward playing this spring for the Celtics are strong.