Celtics forward Gordon Hayward laid to rest any speculation he might be able to return this season, confirming via Facebook on Wednesday that he will be out until 2018-19 as he recovers from the ugly ankle fracture he suffered on opening night.
Hayward was injured just five minutes into his debut with the Celtics after signing a lucrative free-agent deal during the offseason. He wrote in his post, titled "In An Instant," that he "immediately" knew the injury was severe.
"I knew something was off, but when I landed, it wasn't a huge amount of pain," Hayward wrote. "I rolled over and saw my foot, and it was pointed completely the wrong direction. My first thought was, 'Oh. This isn't good. There's something very wrong here. I felt a sense of panic come over me and signaled to the ref, “Hey, look at this. You’ve got to stop the game.” And still, it didn’t seem like it was hurting that much.
"Then all of a sudden, it came."
Hayward went on to detail his full experience, including the initial ride to the hospital in Cleveland, the flight home and the ensuing surgery to repair the bone and a torn ligament in his left ankle. That surgery was "really successful," according to Hayward, with prognosis for a full recovery.
Hayward said he's received a wellspring of support, including emails from Kobe Bryant and Barack Obama. He said he's especially grateful for support from his new organization, which he joined after seven seasons with the Utah Jazz.
"The Celtics organization has been just over the top in every aspect," he wrote, noting that Celtics coach Brad Stevens insisted on helping to carry him via stretcher onto the team charter from Cleveland and made several visits to the hospital around his busy schedule.
"They 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."
Hayward said his biggest goal outside of making a full recovery is to figure out how to contribute to a young Celtics team that is sitting at 5-2 despite his absence.
"Whether it's breaking down film or just providing leadership and guidance, I can't wait to give back," he wrote. "I've already received so much."