Gordon Hayward Hopes to Return This Season, Doesn't Want to Rush Back

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistDecember 10, 2017

Boston Celtics' Gordon Hayward takes questions from members of the media during a news conference, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017 at the Celtics' training facility in Waltham, Mass. Hayward broke his left ankle Oct. 17, 2017, while playing in Cleveland against the Cavaliers. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Steven Senne/Associated Press

Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward isn't ruling out a return this season, though he's not going to rush back if it means risking further injury to his surgically repaired ankle.

Speaking to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, Hayward admitted the thought of coming back has crossed his mind.

"It's definitely in the back of my mind," he said. "I'm definitely pushing to get back as fast as I can, while making sure that I still have a lot of good years of basketball in me."

However, Hayward also cautioned that he wouldn't come back unless he was absolutely certain his leg was able to withstand the rigors of playing in the NBA.

"So I'm making sure that if I come back, I'm 1,000 percent confident in myself and my leg," Hayward said. "I hope more than anything I can play this season. That would be awesome. But that's not something I'm stressing about. I'm stressing about what I can do today to help myself get better."

After signing with the Celtics in the offseason, Hayward dislocated his ankle and fractured his tibia five minutes into the season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 17.

In a Facebook post published on Nov. 1, Hayward stated he would not return to the Celtics until the 2018-19 season.

"They [the Celtics] know I will not be back on the court at all this season, but they have been making sure I have every resource I need and are making me feel like I am part of the team," he wrote.

The Celtics haven't skipped a beat without Hayward in their lineup. They own the best record in the Eastern Conference at 22-5 and rank in the top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency, per Basketball Reference.