Gordon Hayward

Injury Updates: LeBron, AD, Doncic, Hayward, Gordon

A handful of the NBA’s Christmas Day games have lost some of their luster due to injuries, but that shouldn’t be the case for the league’s marquee December 25 matchup. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin, Lakers stars LeBron James (groin) and Anthony Davis (knee) went through an impromptu practice today and are expected to play on Wednesday vs. the Clippers. James and Davis had been listed as questionable.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the league:

  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic was a full participant in practice today, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Doncic’s status for Thursday’s game remains up in the air, but “things are looking better and better,” according to head coach Rick Carlisle.
  • As expected, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward has been listed as probable for the team’s Christmas Day game vs. Toronto. Hayward, who has missed 16 of Boston’s last 19 games, said today that he has been dealing with a nerve issue in his foot, which he believes is related to his ankle injury from two years ago. He has received three cortisone shots and feels “a lot better” after the most recent one, as Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston relays.
  • Rockets guard Eric Gordon, out since November 11 with a knee injury, may be targeting Sunday’s game for his return, says Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Feigen also explores the ripple effect that Gordon’s return will have on Houston’s rotation.
  • Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams has made good progress in his recovery from a shoulder injury and is hopeful he won’t miss much time, writes John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com.

Fournier Could Be On The Move

Magic swingman Evan Fournier is the player most likely to be moved before the trade deadline, according to an ESPN Insider report from Bobby Marks.

While there’s no indication Fournier is being shopped, a straw poll of NBA executives believe that the Magic will need to start exploring their trade options on the veteran, who is likely to leave $17.2MM on the table and opt out this summer. Orlando is currently battling for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Fournier is enjoying a career year, averaging 19.6 PPG and shooting 42.3% from long range.

Here are more nuggets from the ESPN report:

Atlantic Notes: Dinwiddie, Hayward, Miller, Sixers

The New York Post’s Brian Lewis ponders the role that stellar Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie will have when injured All-Star Kyrie Irving returns. Lewis notes that former Net Paul Pierce has proposed one possible solution on ESPN: Irving could start at shooting guard while Dinwiddie keeps rolling at the point guard slot. Brooklyn boasts a 11-6 record with Dinwiddie at the helm since Irving went down. The team was 4-7 before the injury.

“Kyrie’s still learning exactly what we want to do,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson allowed in recent comments. “Spencer’s got a little more corporate knowledge. It’s going to take time for Kyrie to completely understand what we’re doing on both sides of the ball.”

Meanwhile, Malika Andrews of ESPN notes that Irving has yet to be cleared for contact practices with the Nets, according to Atkinson (Twitter link). Two weeks ago, Atkinson had said that Irving would be ready for contact by this stage.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Coach Brad Stevens noted via the official Celtics Twitter account (link) that the health status of Gordon Hayward for his team’s next game will be “bumped up to probable after today.” Hayward’s various maladies have relegated him to just 11 games played this season.
  • Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News takes a look at the differences between ex-Knicks head coach David Fizdale and his interim replacement, Mike Miller. The Knicks are 3-4 since Miller slid over on the bench to take charge. They were 4-18 under Fizdale to start the season.
  • The Sixers offense was once again confounded by a zone defense, this time one enacted by the Mavericks, in a 117-98 loss on Friday. The defeat marked the team’s second consecutive home loss, after initially going 15-0 at the Wells Fargo Center to start the season. According to The Athletic’s Rich Hoffman, coach Brett Brown noted that opponents’ successful zone trapping was so demoralizing it has helped cultivate a lackluster Sixers effort on defense, too. “I think that the influence that our inability lately to… be put on our back heels against the zone, has crept into our defense, our psyche, our spirit,” Brown said. “And I can’t stand it.”

Injury Updates: Anthony, Wagner, MCW, Hayward

Carmelo Anthony doesn’t believe a left knee contusion he suffered Friday night will be a long-term concern, writes Jamie Goldberg of The Oregonian. Anthony, who was held out of Saturday’s game, asked to be removed from Friday’s contest against Orlando in the second quarter after banging knees with another player. He remained in the locker room to get treatment on the injury.

“I didn’t want to take the chance of going out there,” the Trail Blazers‘ forward explained afterward. “We had it rolling. The guys had it rolling. We set the tone early in the game.”

Anthony, 35, has been productive since returning to the NBA last month after a year away from the game. He has averaged 16.0 points and 6.2 rebounds through 15 games and has given Portland another reliable scorer to go along with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

There’s more injury news from around the league:

  • The Wizards will be without Moritz Wagner for at least a week because of an ankle injury, relays Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link). Coach Scott Brooks provided an update last night, telling reporters that Wagner can’t do anything basketball-related right now.
  • Michael Carter-Williams has been diagnosed with an AC joint sprain in his left shoulder, the Magic announced on Twitter. He has been ruled out of tomorrow’s game, and his return date will depend on how the injury responds to treatment. The veteran guard had his arm in a sling after being hit with a hard pick Friday night (Twitter link from Josh Robbins of The Athletic).
  • Gordon Hayward will miss his third straight game today with soreness in his left foot, according to a tweet from the Celtics. An MRI taken this week revealed no structural damage. Hayward was sidelined for about a month with a fractured bone in his left hand and has been limited to 11 games this season.
  • The Heat have already ruled Justise Winslow out for tomorrow’s game, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Winslow hasn’t played since December 4 because of a lower back strain.

Celtics Notes: Kemba, Stevens, Injuries, Tacko

New Celtics point guard Kemba Walker is excited to see what his team can achieve on the court when they reach full health. Currently, injuries to Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams and Vincent Poirier are precluding Walker — and fans — from bearing witness to what that could look like.

“Man, we haven’t had our full roster yet,” Walker lamented, according to NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg. “I can’t wait for it. It’s been unfortunate. But when we do …” Their 19-7 record slots the Celtics at the No. 2 seed in the East, by percentage points over the Heat.

There’s more out of TD Garden:

  • Former Celtic Kendrick Perkins, the starting center on the squad’s last title team in 2008, has picked Boston head coach Brad Stevens as a frontrunner for 2020 NBA Coach of the Year honors, as NBC Sports Boston’s Justin Leger documents. Perkins singled out Stevens’ “next man up” ethos in the wake of Boston’s myriad injuries thus far. Granted, Perkins achieved his biggest career success in Boston, but he also has three former head coaches elsewhere in the league: Doc Rivers on the Clippers, Alvin Gentry on the Pelicans, and Scott Brooks on the Wizards. Perkins’ former Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue is the lead assistant coach on Rivers’ staff.
  • 7’5″ two-way rookie center Tacko Fall‘s regular season home debut last night offered an interesting look into the team’s dynamic chemistry, NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg notes. Fall is averaging 4.5 points and 2.5 rebounds across his first two NBA games.
  • The latest injury update on Gordon Hayward is significantly more promising than Marcus Smart‘s current status. Coach Brad Stevens doubts Hayward’s lingering foot injury will be a long-term issue, and an MRI taken Thursday showed no structural damage. Smart, meanwhile, has missed the past four games with an eye infection. Stevens revealed a troubling anecdote from his medical staff. “The last report I got (from the training staff), they didn’t think they’ve seen one this bad,” Stevens said, according to NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg.

Gordon Hayward To Return On Monday

DECEMBER 9: Hayward went through the Celtics’ Monday shootaround with the intention of playing tonight, per head coach Brad Stevens (Twitter link).

DECEMBER 8: In a bit of surprising news, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward told reporters today that the fourth metacarpal fracture in his left hand has healed, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston.

Hayward would not rule out a return to game action tomorrow night against the embattled Cavaliers. He did not partake in 5-on-5 scrimmaging with teammates in today’s practice. “Tomorrow’s a possibility,” Hayward said. “See how I feel when I wake up, go through shootaround, see how it goes.”

After signing a four-year, $127.8MM contract with Boston in 2017, Hayward violently broke his tibia and fractured his ankle five minutes into the Celtic’s first game of the 2017/18 season. He returned in the 2018/19 season a far cry from his old All-Star form. His contract began to look like an albatross as Hayward was relegated to a more modest bench role, averaging 11.5 PPG (on 46.6% shooting from the floor), 4.5 RPG and 3.5 APG.

Before his injury this season, Hayward was looking ready to earn a second career All-Star nod. This season, he is averaging 18.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists a night while shooting 55.5% from the field. Hayward is connecting on 43.3% of his 3.8 triples per contest.

A return this week would be two weeks ahead of the projected six-week recovery time from the surgery he underwent for the fracture on November 11.

The Celtics are 9-4 without Hayward in the lineup, and 16-5 overall. They currently boast the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. Boston’s official Twitter account listed Hayward’s status for tomorrow as “questionable.”

“Motion and strength [are] going to take a little while to get back; it’s whether or not you can play through that and still be effective,” Hayward stressed. “That’s kind of what we’re determining but the bone is healed.”

Celtics Expect Gordon Hayward Back By Christmas

The Celtics believe Gordon Hayward will back on the court before their Christmas matchup with Toronto, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Coach Brad Stevens offered the updated prognosis for Hayward, who has been sidelined since November 9 with a fractured bone in his left hand.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a radio interview yesterday that Hayward remains ahead of schedule in his rehab and could return to practice by Saturday, relays Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston. The veteran forward was originally projected to be sidelined for about six weeks.

“I don’t want to get ahead of myself and get too excited about it, but I think he’s progressing really well,” Ainge said in an appearance on  98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich.”

Hayward began conditioning, non-contact and shooting drills last week and consulted with his doctors Monday on FaceTime, Hartwell adds. He has also been working out with the team’s assistant coaches.

Hayward appeared to regain his All-Star form early this season after being fully recovered from a severe ankle injury suffered on opening night of the 2017/18 campaign. He was averaging 18.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists through eight games.

Atlantic Notes: McConnell, Hayward, Nets, Embiid

Former Sixers guard T.J. McConnell returned to Philadelphia when the Pacers took on the team Saturday night, marking his first time playing in Wells Fargo Center since changing teams in free agency this past summer.

“It’s good being back, seeing all of the faces and all of the people you build a relationship with,” McConnell said, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s a lot of great people here, and I miss them.”

McConnell, 27, joined the Pacers on a two-year deal last summer after spending four seasons with the Sixers. He quickly earned the respect of his coaches and fans during his stint with Philadelphia, appearing in at least 75 games in each of his four campaigns.

“Starting here, winning 10 games,” he said of the team going 10-72 his rookie season. “Then, at the end of my tenure here, you are one shot away from going to the Eastern Conference Finals. That’s a pretty incredible journey that we went on.”

McConnell has provided consistency and professionalism for the Pacers during the 2019/20 season, averaging seven points, 4.7 assists and 17.4 minutes in 17 games thus far.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division today:

  • Celtics forward Gordon Hayward will have another meeting with his doctor on Monday to determine the next steps in his recovery process, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link). Hayward has missed the past three weeks due to a fractured hand, with his meeting on Monday set to take place over FaceTime, coach Brad Stevens said.
  • Sopan Deb of the New York Times examines how the Nets keep winning without three of their best players, detailing the strong teamwork, camaraderie and togetherness the group has shown in the wake of adversity. Brooklyn is currently without Kevin Durant (Achilles), Kyrie Irving (shoulder) and Caris LeVert (thumb).
  • Sixers center Joel Embiid was fueled by his first-ever scoreless game against the Raptors last week, Erin McCarthy of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Embiid finished that game with zero points on 0-for-11 shooting, but bounced back in the contests that followed. He scored 33 points on Wednesday, 27 points on Friday and 32 points on Saturday.

Celtics Notes: Walker, Hayward, Brown, Waters

Kemba Walker didn’t find it remarkable that he was able to be a difference maker in Wednesday’s win over the Nets five days after spraining his neck, relays Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Walker scored 39 points and explained afterward that he recovered quickly from an injury that many feared was serious.

“I’ve been over it,” he said. “I mean, I could have played last game, honestly. But if I’m on the court, I’m on the court. That’s really it. I wasn’t out there thinking about anything. I wanted to win.”

Walker refused to get into the controversy involving Kyrie Irving, who was the target of chants throughout the game even though he wasn’t with his team because of an injured shoulder. Walker appreciated “MVP” support from Celtics‘ fans, but refused to say anything bad about the man he replaced in the Boston backcourt.

“I don’t really pay attention to the Kyrie stuff,” he said. “That’s just the fans and how they feel. That’s not something I’m really paying close attention to. And of course the MVP chants are really great. It’s always a great feeling to have support from your fan base, and I most definitely appreciate this fan base.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Nearly three weeks after breaking a bone in his left hand, Gordon Hayward feels ahead of schedule in his recovery, tweets A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. A timetable hasn’t been set for Hayward, who was projected to be sidelined for six weeks after having surgery November 11. He participated in shooting drills earlier this week, tweets Nicole Yang of The Boston Globe.
  • Jaylen Brown has raised his game in the wake of Hayward’s injury, Blakely writes in a full story. Brown, who received a four-year extension last month, has averaged 19.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per night since Hayward got hurt. “We have a next-man-up mentality around here,” Brown said. “When someone goes down, it’s an opportunity for someone else to step up. Some nights, it’s gonna be me. Other nights, it might be someone else. The thing is, you just have to make sure you stay ready and when your time comes, make the most of it. That’s basically what I’m trying to do when I’m out there; do whatever I can to help the team win.”
  • Tremont Waters admits being nervous during his NBA debut Monday, relays Tom Westerholm of MassLive. Despite shooting 2-of-7, Waters had a plus-20 rating for the game. “It’s a surreal feeling,” he said. “Kids dream of this moment, and to be able to be in this position, to go from the G League, obviously I’m working on my game, to come to the NBA level and to help the team actually get a win definitely feels good, but I’m not satisfied with it. Just got to keep working and everything else will definitely play itself out.”

Danny Ainge Discusses Lessons Learned From 2018/19 Celtics

The 2018/19 Celtics came into the season with high hopes of competing for the Eastern Conference crown. Instead, the team underachieved and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge wishes he would have made more changes and cleared certain logjams on the depth chart.

“I think that in hindsight, we should have cleaned out the roster a little bit to make it easier for [coach] Brad [Stevens], more joy for him to coach,” Ainge told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.

Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward re-joining a young squad that had just reached the Eastern Conference Finals caused a disruption of sorts within the organization. Younger players felt like they had already accomplished more than they had and reinserting the veterans into the rotation—giving both top roles—caused a rift.

“It just didn’t mesh,” Ainge said. “You know, it just didn’t, and I knew, and we talked about it.”

Ainge said that he didn’t make any major trades because the team got off to a nice start, winning 37 games before the All-Star break. This year’s Celtics are again off a hot start with the team winning 12 of their first 16 games.

In reference to last year’s team. Ainge admitted that he would be “a little bit more careful … building another team that had such equal depth” while also making it clear that Irving should not be scapegoated as the problem in Boston last season.

“I think it’s silly that Kyrie is targeted as the guy just because he’s not with us this year,” said Ainge, who thinks he was also part of the problem. “I’ll blame all the players and I’ll blame myself, and we’ll go from there.”