Hornets' Gordon Hayward out 4 Weeks with Foot Injury Diagnosed as Sprain

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 3, 2021

Charlotte Hornets forward Gordon Hayward (20) dribbles the ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

The Charlotte Hornets announced Saturday that wing Gordon Hayward suffered a sprained right foot during Friday night's 114-97 win over the Indiana Pacers.

No concrete timetable was given for Hayward's return, but the team noted he will be re-evaluated in approximately four weeks.

Hayward is the Hornets' second significant injury in the past couple of weeks, as rookie sensation LaMelo Ball suffered a fractured right wrist on March 20. The team announced at the time that Ball would be re-evaluated in four weeks as well.

The 31-year-old Hayward has been excellent in his first season with the Hornets after they acquired him from the Boston Celtics in an offseason trade.

In 44 games, Hayward has averaged 19.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.2 steals while shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from beyond the arc, marking his best production since his final season with the Utah Jazz in 2016-17.

The one-time All-Star suffered a gruesome leg and ankle injury in his first game with the Celtics in 2018, and he never quite regained his pre-injury form in Boston.

Hayward has been playing at a different level in Charlotte, though, and he is a big reason why the Hornets are among the most pleasant surprises in the NBA.

Currently, Charlotte is fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 25-23 record, putting it in strong position to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 season.

With both Hayward and Ball set to miss at least one month apiece, however, head coach James Borrego will have to put his team's depth to the test.

Guards Terry Rozier, Devonte' Graham and Malik Monk figure to be the Hornets' go-to guys offensively in the coming weeks with forwards P.J. Washington and Miles Bridges factoring in as well.

There is no like-for-like replacement on Charlotte's roster for Hayward, but Bridges is perhaps the closest comparison.

In 48 games this season, the third-year man is averaging 10.0 points, 2.0 assists and a career-high 5.8 rebounds per game. He is also shooting a career-best 49.9 percent from the floor and 37.8 percent from deep.

If the Hornets are going to maintain their position in the standings and make the playoffs, they will have to do it without Hayward and Ball for the foreseeable future.

Since the last day of the 2020-21 regular season is May 16, however, the timelines that have been provided suggest there is a chance both Hayward and Ball could be back by the playoffs.