Gordon Hayward

Jazz Notes: Hayward, Gobert, Favors, Johnson

The Jazz recognize that there’s no easy way to make up for the loss of Gordon Hayward in free agency, writes Chris Mannix of The Vertical. After winning 51 games last season, Utah bet heavily on its chances to re-sign Hayward and didn’t have a way to replace him when he left for Boston. Hayward was the leading scorer for the Jazz last season at 21.9 points per game and averaged 15.6 over seven years in Utah.

“There is always an optimism at the beginning of the season,” said coach Quin Snyder. “And I’m not saying there isn’t that now, but it’s tempered a little bit with the personnel changes. … There isn’t a silver bullet. What there is, though, is a challenge. That’s something you can really embrace and enjoy.”

There’s more tonight from Utah:

  • The rebuilding effort has been slowed by a tibia contusion that has sidelined center Rudy Gobert. The league’s leading shot blocker, who will miss at least four more weeks before being re-evaluated, told Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News he hasn’t lost faith in his team’s ability to remain a contender. “Like I said, starting the season I’m confident that the team is going to win games even when I’m not here and I’ll be back stronger,” Gobert said. “It’s like an All-Star break before the All-Star break. So everything is good, I’m confident and nothing’s changed. No team goals. No individual goals. Everything’s good.
  • The loss of Gobert will bring changes as the Jazz try to get by with a smaller lineup, relays the Associated Press. Derrick Favors will move from power forward to center, with Thabo Sefolosha, Jonas JerebkoEkpe Udoh and Joe Ingles all seeing time at the four spot. Joe Johnson will be added to that mix once he returns from a wrist injury. “Every substitution pattern changes the makeup of the team,” Snyder said. “Some more dramatically than others. Obviously, Derrick playing with Thabo or Joe Ingles at the four, there’s a different style of attack. It’s something that Derrick’s capable of doing and doing well.”
  • Johnson will be out at least two more weeks with tendon instability in his right wrist, Woodyard writes in a separate story. He talked with a hand specialist and is showing some improvement, but there’s no timetable for his return. Johnson played just seven games before the injury.

Atlantic Notes: Anthony, Hayward, Ojeleye, Bayless

In a wide-ranging interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Thunder superstar Carmelo Anthony discussed his activism, his trade to Oklahoma City, missing his family in New York, and more. The interview is worth a read, but Anthony once again discussed his tumultuous exit from New York. The 1o-time NBA All-Star said multiple times before the trade that he wanted to win in New York — and even admitted in the interview that he was prepared to come to media day with the Knicks before a trade was consummated.

“It was bittersweet. That’s my city. I didn’t want to leave like that,” Anthony said. “I didn’t want it to end like that. But it’s just a reoccurring thing that happens in New York. It happened in the past. It happened to other people. It happens all the time. Nobody ever goes out the right way in New York. I wanted to have an opportunity now to go somewhere else rather than wait and dealing with that. It’s at the end. It’s over with.”

The Thunder have played well with Anthony, Russell Westbrook, and Paul George as part of a revamped roster. However, as Anthony touched upon in the interview, being away from his son — who convinced him to join the Thunder — and his wife has been the most challenging part of the process.

Check out other news from the Atlantic Division:

Celtics Notes: Hayward, Stevens, Horford, Baynes

“I had run that play countless times” is how Gordon Hayward begins a recap of his injury and the aftermath in a lengthy piece posted on his website. Titled “In an Instant,” the article retraces the collision that led to Hayward’s season-ending injury on opening night, his experiences at the hospital, the outpouring of support and the beginning of rehab.

Hayward’s surgery was successful and he expects to be ready for next season. He got thousands of messages of encouragement, and among those that stand out came from Paul George and Kobe Bryant, who both recovered from serious leg injuries, and the Utah Jazz, which Hayward left in free agency this summer. Hayward credits the Celtics for helping with the rehab process and notes that his injury will require young players like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to grow up faster.

“I keep imagining what it’s going to be like to step onto the floor at the Garden, and make my regular season debut as a Celtic,” Hayward writes. “It’s going to be a little delayed. But with each day of my rehab, I’ll be that much closer to making it happen. I’m already dreaming about sharing that moment with everyone here in Boston—a city that I’m still getting to know, but that I’ve connected with through all of this in ways beyond anything I could have imagined.”

There’s more news out of Boston:

  • Hayward is still very limited by the injury, but coach Brad Stevens said he has begun shooting from a chair, tweets Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Hayward is still in a walking boot, but had a hard cast removed.
  • Celtics players are crediting Stevens for keeping the team from panicking after Hayward went down, relays Chris Forsberg of ESPN. After an 0-2 start, Boston has strung together five straight wins to reach the top of the Eastern Conference. “Once [the Hayward injury] happened, we really didn’t know where we were at as a group,” said Al Horford. “But I felt like we’ve really come together and we’re trying to take it day by day. Just listening to Coach, and he’s steering us the right way.”
  • The Celtics haven’t lost since inserting Aron Baynes into the starting lineup, notes David Morrow of AmicoHoops. After Boston dropped its first two games with Horford as the starting center, Stevens made a lineup change to add size. Baynes took over in the middle, with Horford shifting to power forward, Tatum at small forward and Brown moving to the backcourt. It has become the team’s best overall lineup and its top rebounding group, grabbing 56% of all boards. Baynes, who signed with the Celtics this summer, is averaging a career-best 5.1 rebounds in about 20 minutes per game.

Atlantic Rumors: Beasley, Hayward, Crabbe, Embiid

A pair of free-agent acquisitions, forward Michael Beasley and point guard Ramon Sessions, are among the players who have fallen out of the Knicks’ rotation, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Beasley didn’t play for the first time this season in the Knicks’ win over the Cavaliers on Sunday while Sessions, who started the first three games, didn’t play for the second straight game. Beasley signed a one-year, $2.1MM deal with New York and Sessions inked a one-year, $2.3MM contract this summer. Big man Willy Hernangomez has also fallen out of coach Jeff Hornacek’s current rotation and combo guard Ron Baker was inactive for the second straight game, Berman adds.

In other developments around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics are gradually adjusting to the loss of Gordon Hayward, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. Hayward’s horrific leg injury in the season opener left the team reeling but it has perked up over the past week, winning four straight heading into Monday’s game against the Spurs. “I think we’re getting used to that reality to what we have in front of us,” power forward Al Horford told Bulpett. “It’s a hard blow, but then as the days go on you kind of realize that this is our reality, this is what we have, and we need to make the most of it with what’s here right now.”
  • The Nets traded for shooting guard Allen Crabbe‘s huge contract but he hasn’t taken a lot of shots in the early going, Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily.com notes. Crabbe, who is the second year of a four-year, $74.8MM deal, was acquired from the Trail Blazers in July. Thus far, he’s averaging 10.6 PPG and taking an average of 9.4 shots per game. However, coach Kenny Atkinson told Puccio and other media members that he’s not worried about getting Crabbe more involved.  “We’re not a ‘let’s give it to Allen and clear out and let him go one-on-one,’” Atkinson said. “It’s a team concept. That means everything has to be in sync, we have to run to our spots, screen better, cut better.”
  • Joel Embiid, who signed a max extension with the Sixers earlier this month, wants to play in Philadelphia the remainder of this career, Molly Sullivan of NBCSPhilly.com tweets. “I want to be Kobe Bryant. I want to be Tim Duncan. I want to be Dirk Nowitzki,” Embiid told Sullivan.

Heat Notes: Olynyk, Whiteside, Hayward, Williams

Free agent addition Kelly Olynyk has dropped 16 pounds and made changes to his game since coming to Miami, writes Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. Olynyk believes the weight loss has made him more mobile, and he is tied for the early-season league lead in drawing charges.

“You’re trying to beat somebody to a spot, and if they’re going to go through you, then you got to go down,” Olynyk explained. “In this league and the way it’s played today, sometimes if you try to stand your ground and try to resist and you go into them, now they flop and now it’s your fault. So why take the risk? It’s a turnover, it’s your ball and now you’re going the other way.”

Olynyk’s four-year, $50MM deal includes a $1MM bonus if he plays 1,700 minutes this season, a figure he never reached in his four seasons with Boston.

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • Starting center Hassan Whiteside began drills Friday with assistant coach Juwan Howard, but still isn’t ready for a full practice, Navarro adds in the same story. Whiteside has missed four straight games with a bone bruise in his left knee. The Heat prefer that their players participate in a full-contact practice before being cleared for games. “We’re going to be in constant communication as he rehabs and does treatment and starts to get back into the mix and that’s why we’re just continuing to say he’s day by day, because that’s what he is,” said coach Erik Spoelstra.
  • If not for the season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward, tonight would have been the Heat’s first meeting with a player they tried hard to get in free agency, notes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Miami was among three finalists for Hayward, along with Boston and Utah, and waited through and waited four days before he announced his intention to join the Celtics. “We loved the meeting with Gordon,” Spoelstra said. “There’s a reason why we recruited him. And we thought it went well. You just never know how those things are going to play out.”
  • Rookie guard Matt Williams, who was assigned to the G League today, only used up three of his allotted NBA days this week, Winderman tweets. Williams, who is limited to 45 days in his two-way contract, spent four games with the team before being demoted. The clock didn’t start until Monday when G League training camps opened, Thursday didn’t count because the Heat had an off day and Friday was considered a travel day as Williams headed for Sioux Falls. The 3-point specialist didn’t get into a game for Miami.

Celtics Granted $8.4MM Disabled Player Exception

The Celtics have been granted a $8.4MM disabled player exception to replace Gordon Hayward for the season, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets.

Disabled player exceptions can be granted to teams that lose a player to a season-ending injury. They’re worth either half the injured player’s salary, or the amount of the mid-level exception, whichever is lesser.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Disabled Player Exception]

As Bobby Marks of ESPN explains, the C’s already have an open roster spot and can thus sign, claim or trade for a player whose contract will expire at the end of 2017/18.

There’s no particular rush for the Celtics to go out and acquire a player now, however, as the team will have until March 10 to actually use the exception.

It’s possible that president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will continue to audition his new-look roster and narrow down their most glaring need at a later date.

As we wrote about yesterday, there are slim pickings left on the free agent wire but a number of veterans who could conceivably add value to a contending team like Boston.

Atlantic Notes: Hayward, Ntilikina, Nets, Raptors

Gordon Hayward‘s gruesome ankle injury on opening night was not the storyline people expected coming out LeBron James first head-to-head matchup against Kyrie Irving. Nonetheless, the Celtics‘ prized free agent signing is expected to miss the remainder of the season. While it is not impossible that Hayward returns at the end of the season, him going through rehab successfully is the main goal.

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today chronicled what Hayward’s journey back to the hardwood will entail. In earnest, Hayward can expect to be off a basketball court for about six months until he is cleared for basketball-related activities. After surgery, the Celtics forward will not be allowed to put weight on the damaged ankle about 4 to 6 weeks as he gets around with crutches and/or a knee scooter. Zillgitt further explains that initial stages of rehab will include soft-tissue intervention, manual therapy, and aquatic therapy.

About eight weeks in, Hayward should be cleared for light jogging, another checked off milestone. The Celtics did not release a timeline for Hayward returning and it was for good reason, Robert DiGiacomo, the director of the sports rehabilitation center at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, told Zillgitt. “We try not to be beholden to timeline,” DiGiacomo said. “Achieving functional milestones is the most important thing.”

Check out other news tidbits around the Atlantic Division:

  • Frank Ntilikina, the Knicks‘ first-round pick this season, has been mentioned as part of a hypothetical trade package for Suns‘ point guard Eric Bledsoe. While reports indicate the Knicks do not want to part with Ntilikina for Bledsoe, the 19-year-old Frenchman’s sole focus is on returning to the court from an ankle injury, Newsday’s Al Iannazzone writes.
  • Aleksandar Vezenkov, the Nets‘ second-round pick (57th overall) this year told Bulgarian media that team officials told him he could be in Brooklyn as soon as next season, per Net Income of NetsDaily. Vezenkov, 22, is a European stash for the Nets who general manager Sean Marks labeled an “elite shooter.”
  • After being swept by the Cavaliers in the playoffs last season, the Raptors‘ offseason strategy was expected to include a lot of changes — and while Toronto didn’t blow up its roster, the team did make significant changes. President of basketball operations Masai Ujiri explained the team’s moves to Chris Mannix of The Vertical. “I think some of the changes we made were radical,” Ujiri said. “We lost Cory Joseph. Patrick Patterson. P.J. Tucker. Those guys were pretty good players. For us to make a change there, to put our young guys on the court, to give them this platform to perform, I think it’s somewhat of a radical change.”

Celtics Notes: Bird, Tatum, Larkin, Hayward

Jabari Bird, who watched the Celtics’ season opener from his California home, played a key role in Friday’s comeback win over the Sixers, writes Taylor C. Snow of NBA.com. Coach Brad Stevens called on Bird in the third quarter to guard J.J. Redick. He wound up playing 14 minutes and rallying Boston from an eight-point deficit to a four-point lead.

Bird never expected this type of early action after signing a two-way contract in early September. But an opportunity occurred when Gordon Hayward suffered an opening-night injury that is expected to keep him out for the season. Bird boarded a plane that night and joined the team in Milwaukee on Wednesday. He is limited to 45 days in the NBA, but the clock doesn’t start until G League training camps open Monday.

“All the way through preseason and training camp, I felt like he was one of our better perimeter defenders,” Stevens said. “I think he’s got a huge upside. His rebounding spoke for itself in the preseason practices and his ability to guard on the ball, especially shooters cutting off screens, is just really good. He’s not afraid, and you knew he would step up.”

There’s more news out of Boston:

  • So far, the Celtics are decisive winners in the June trade that sent the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft to Philadelphia in exchange for the No. 3 choice and a future first-rounder, declares A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports BostonJayson Tatum has shined in the early season, averaging 12.3 points and 9.0 rebounds in three games, while Fultz has struggled with injuries, including a sore shoulder that is affecting his shot.
  • Shane Larkin was an overlooked signing when he inked a one-year deal with the Celtics in late July, but he had the best plus-minus rating on the team in Friday’s win in Philadelphia, Blakely notes in the same piece. Larkin, who played in the Spanish League last season, has been getting an opportunity because of Marcus Smart‘s injured left ankle.
  • Stevens says Hayward is maintaining a positive attitude in the wake of his injury, relays Chris Forsberg of ESPN. Their conversation focused mainly on rehab, and Stevens got advice from Frank Vogel, who coached the Pacers when Paul George suffered a broken leg. “[Hayward is] going to be the best guy shooting out of a chair, with his left hand, with his right hand, perfect his form, and let’s have fun,” Stevens added. “Let’s come up with creative ways to attack this thing.” The coach originally talked about a five-month rehab process, but later clarified that there is no timeline and the Celtics don’t expect Hayward to return this season (Twitter link).

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Hayward, Lin, Raptors

Heading into the Sixers‘ season opener on Wednesday, Joel Embiid was only expected to receive between 15 and 20 minutes of playing time, prompting the fourth-year center to sound off with his thoughts on the minutes restriction.

However, prior to tip-off, head coach Brett Brown suggested that Embiid’s minutes limit could increase quickly (Twitter link via Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer), and Brown made good on that statement just hours later. Embiid played 27 minutes in the Sixers’ opener against Washington, which surprised the former third overall pick.

Having successfully pushed to increase his minutes – for at least one game – Embiid is now hopeful that he’ll be cleared to participate in back-to-back games, as Pompey writes at Philly.com. The Sixers’ first set of back-to-back games will take place this weekend, as the team hosts Boston on Friday before heading to Toronto for a Saturday contest.

“Yesterday I played, and my body feels great today,” the Sixers’ star center said on Thursday. “My knee feels amazing. So I feel like if I have to play today, I would play depending on how I feel. But I feel like I’m ready.”

As we wait to see how the 76ers handle Embiid, let’s check in on a few more Atlantic notes…

  • Asked about Gordon Hayward‘s potential return, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said on Thursday that it’s too early to put a timetable on the forward’s recovery, as Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald details. “I think it’s just safe to say that we’re not counting on him this year and go from there,” Ainge said. “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.”
  • Ainge, who said the Celtics are exploring possible roster additions, added that the club is “not in a major rush” to make any moves, per Bulpett.
  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post spoke to orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Gladstone about the outlook for Nets guard Jeremy Lin‘s recovery from his season-ending knee injury.
  • The Raptors will face an interesting balancing act this season as they focus on both short-term success and long-term development of their younger players, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. That balancing act got off to a promising start on Thursday, with youngsters like Delon Wright and OG Anunoby playing key roles in Toronto’s win over Chicago.

Agent: Gordon Hayward Unlikely To Return This Season

Celtics forward Gordon Hayward underwent surgery on Wednesday night to repair a dislocated left ankle and fractured tibia, and while that surgery was deemed successful, agent Mark Bartelstein tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that his client is unlikely to return to the court this season.

Although Bartelstein isn’t expecting Hayward to be back during the 2017/18 campaign, he remains confident in the 27-year-old’s long-term prognosis, suggesting to Wojnarowski that the injury isn’t career-threatening.

“We expect him to make a full recovery and return to his All-Star form,” Bartelstein said.

With Hayward likely to miss the entire season, the Celtics will be eligible to apply for a disabled player exception to help replace their star forward, and the league should grant that exception at some point. The DPE would give Boston the opportunity to sign, claim, or trade for a player earning up to $8.406MM. If the C’s were to use the exception to trade for someone, that player would need to be in the final year of his contract.

While there’s no guarantee that the C’s will make use of that disabled player exception right away, the team does have an open spot on its 15-man roster, and head coach Brad Stevens indicated on Wednesday that there’s a decent chance the club will fill it, as Wojnarowski details. In the meantime, Boston made two-way player Jabari Bird active on Wednesday to help add some depth, and the game won’t count as one of Bird’s 45 NBA days, since that clock doesn’t start until G League training camps do.

Assuming Hayward misses the season, the Celtics would be able to recoup up to about $7.2MM of his $29.73MM+ salary via insurance, ESPN’s report notes.

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