Celtics forward Gordon Hayward is set to have surgery Wednesday in Boston on his left ankle following a gruesome injury in the Celtics’ season opener in Cleveland.
It is not yet certain if Hayward will be able to return this season, but medical professionals are weighing in on possible timetables.
Metro Boston reached out to Jess Barsotti, a physical therapist at ProEx Physical Therapy - an affiliate of Professional Physical Therapy, about the Hayward injury and to get his take on when Hayward could return to the court for the Celtics.
“The timetable is usually long – we’re talking months to maybe the equivalent of a full season,” Barsotti told Metro. “Thinking back to other players who have had similar injuries with fracture and dislocation, those players have typically returned midway through the next season. The variability for return time can hinge on many factors including the player’s surgery and post-op recovery, diligence with rehabilitation exercises and treatments, the player’s position, and style of play.”
Barsotti also touched on how common and uncommon these type of injuries are in basketball.
“A past history of ankle and foot injuries could predispose a person to an injury like this, from less traumatic circumstances, though,” Barsotti told Metro. “In the professional arena, you might see 1-2 of these injuries per year in the league at most. These might be more common in high school and college where players have less training and ability.”
Dr. Thomas Gill painted one of the rosier outlooks for Hayward during an interview with WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni and Fauria show Wednesday. Gill served as Head Team Physician for the New England Patriots and as the Medical Director for the Boston Red Sox.
“If it’s not in the joint, if it’s more in the tibia bone and the fibula bone but it’s outside of the joint – up a little higher, then it can take realistically 12 weeks – it could be healed and he could realistically be playing on it,” Gill said. “If it’s more in the joint – what we call a Pilon fracture – or if there is a lot of ligament damage on top of it, then more than likely he would be out for the season.”
The 12-week timetable would mean that Hayward could be back by mid-January. One would think the Celtics would not rush it at all if the above perfect scenario plays out, and they would wait an extra month to ensure Hayward is 100 percent. So absolute best-case scenario is that Hayward would be playing in a regular season game by mid-February.
In an odd way, the best time for Hayward to have suffered such a horrific injury is so early into a season as the worst-case scenario is that Hayward won’t be able to play full-court basketball until a full calendar year from now.