Morning Shootaround

Danny Ainge not expecting Gordon Hayward's return this season

NBA.com staff reports

By all accounts, the surgery to repair Gordon Hayward’s dislocated left ankle went well and the Boston Celtics’ forward is beginning his long journey on the comeback trail. The thinking from Hayward’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, is that Hayward is unlikely to suit up again this season for Boston. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who signed Hayward in the summer, knows that better than most.

In an interview with Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald, Ainge says he knows everyone heals differently and is hoping for the best for Hayward:

“I’m not a doctor, and I wasn’t in the surgery, so I don’t really know,” Danny Ainge told the Herald when asked if he was leaving the door open. “And it’s still too early to tell. I mean, he just got out of surgery at midnight (Wednesday) night, and he was resting all day (yesterday) since he got no sleep (Wednesday). I honestly don’t know if anybody knows that.

“But I think it’s just safe to say that we’re not counting on him this year and go from there. Just take the pressure off him and let him heal correctly is the most important thing and not even really talk about when he should return to play. That’ll work itself out over time. Everybody heals differently.”

The Celtics already had an available roster spot, and they could apply to the league for a disabled player exception that would create a slot of more than $8 million to add another player. But it’s likely the club will let this play out a bit before deciding on a course of action.

“We’re looking,” said Ainge. “We’re looking for ways to improve our team, but we’re not in a major rush to do that.”

As for what would constitute success now, the president of basketball operations said, “You know what? I never go there. Like, I don’t know. Everybody wants prognostications before the season starts, and five minutes into the season, you see what happens to those prognostications. Right now, I’m just watching for improvement and watching for our team to come together.

“I’m certainly not panicking right now. I feel like we have not played very well, and we’ve had a chance in both of the first two games. So I know that we can play a lot better than we’ve just played. We’ll see if we can just keep improving.”

“I knew right away what most likely had happened, and I just felt sick for Gordon more than anybody,” he said. “I felt sick for all of our team. You know, it’s just a tough thing. Gordon’s the one that has to go out and put in the work now to get himself back right. It’s a tough thing to go through, but I feel like Gordon is a strong kid. He can overcome this.

“I feel bad for Gordon. He’s put a lot of work in to prepare for this year and for this opportunity in his career, and it’s just a major setback. But I think he’ll grow from it.”

How so?

“I just think that that’s how we grow sometimes, going through adverse situations,” Ainge said.

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The Celtics host the 76ers tonight (7 ET, NBA League Pass).

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