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Danny Ainge clarifies 'setback' reference regarding Gordon Hayward's recovery

From NBA media reports

Words matter. And in Boston, certain words matter more than others, such as “chowdah,” “Kennedys” and “Yankees.”

Better add “setback” to that list now, based on the hubbub it caused recently when the Boston Celtics’ president of basketball operations used it in connection with rehabbing player Gordon Hayward.

In his weekly radio appearance on The Sports Network, Ainge had set off alarms when he introduced an apparent bit of negativity into Hayward’s progress back from the gruesome ankle fracture he suffered in the season opener. Ainge had said: “He had like one setback for a couple of weeks, maybe a month and a half ago. We were progressing a little bit too fast, we thought.”

It dragged a gloomy cloud over what so far had been a seamlessly sunshiny process, prompting Ainge to clarify for Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. Not that the Celtics have budged from their view that Hayward, regardless of the strides he makes in returning to full health, will not be participating this season or postseason:

“You know what? Sometimes I talk too much,” said Ainge. “‘Setback’ wasn’t the right word, so let me rephrase that because it’s not exactly true to say it — or say it that way.

“What happened is he went on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill] the first day and he felt some soreness. It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn’t ready for it at that point. That’s all it was.

“So I think ‘setback’ is the wrong way to put it. I mis-phrased that. I’m not sure what the right word is, but he wasn’t ready for that. So we waited a couple of weeks before we started that again, and since we started that again it’s been great and he’s progressed along on the AlterG. That’s all. It wasn’t like he had an accident or anything like that.”

The Celtic position from the start has been to not expect Hayward to play again this season. The surgery revealed no greater issues, which left open the possibility, but people can heal differently, and the club didn’t want expectations hanging over his head as he tried to thread the rehabilitation needle to return.

“The bottom line is he’s not on the court other than shooting and ballhandling and some sidestepping,” Ainge told the Herald. “But he hasn’t done any running or even jogging or real jumping on the basketball court yet, and we have less than a month left in the regular season.”

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