Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward Plans To Stay With Celtics Throughout Playoffs

Gordon Hayward not only returned to the court to help the Celtics grab a much-needed win Saturday night, he announced that he will remain with the team for the remainder of its playoff run, writes Mark Medina of USA Today.

Hayward had been planning to be with his wife when she gives birth to their fourth child sometime this month. But he said that changed after his he left Orlando to visit her while he was sidelined with a sprained ankle.

“A little bit lucky that Robyn was already there in (Indianapolis), so I was able to be at home and get great treatment,” Hayward said. “But that wasn’t in the plan. Robyn could be having a baby at any point in time. It’s probably something I’ll be here. By the time I get back, I might miss the birth if she goes in and she rushes to the hospital. We discussed it and we prayed about it. I think it’s probably best if I stay here and help our team.”

The Celtics weren’t sure that Hayward would be available Saturday until he went through pre-game warm-ups. He told the training staff that his ankle felt good, and he was cleared to play.

Although coach Brad Stevens had planned to limit Hayward’s court time in his first game in a month, the forward wound up playing 31 minutes and contributing six points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. He provided an emotional lift to a team that had been reeling after blowing big leads in the first two games of the series and went through a locker room meltdown after Game 2.

“He did what he’s done all year. He didn’t shoot it quite as much, but he is a stabilizing force for our team,” Stevens said. “He just can make the right play and make a play for somebody else at the right time.”

Hayward suffered the injury, which was diagnosed as a Grade III ankle sprain, during Boston’s playoff opener against the Sixers. He left for Indiana soon afterward and returned on September 6. After four days of quarantine, Hayward spent most of his time in the gym and the pool working to get back into game shape.

“It definitely felt weird out there,” he told Sam Amick of The Athletic. “It’s been four or five weeks … since I played basketball, so I think it was really fun to be back out there with the team, with the guys. I just tried to impact our team in winning ways — whatever I could do. The first five minutes, I was gassed. I’m extremely tired right now. My ankle’s pretty sore. But I’m just proud of the way we fought, and proud of us getting the win.”

Celtics’ Gordon Hayward Will Be Active For Game 3

6:40pm: Hayward is available for tonight’s game and will come off the bench, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

2:40pm: Down 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics may get an important part of their rotation back for tonight’s Game 3, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Wojnarowski cites “significiant optimism” that Gordon Hayward will return to the lineup, as long as he doesn’t suffer a setback to his sprained right ankle during pregame warm-ups.

Hayward has been sidelined for about a month with the injury, which was diagnosed as a Grade III sprain, but has made progress in the past few days, according to Woj. The Celtics officially updated his status to questionable on Friday’s injury report.

The 30-year-old forward was injured in the opening game of Boston’s first-round series against the Sixers. He briefly left the Disney World campus following the injury, but returned two weeks ago.

Hayward appeared fully healthy this season for the first time since he signed with the Celtics in 2017. He became a full-time starter again and averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 52 games.

Atlantic Notes: CP3, Nash, Stevens, Hayward

After the Sixers were swept out of the first round of the 2020 playoffs, the team fired longtime head coach Brett Brown, who had survived several front office shakeups. But the on-court personnel could use some changes, too. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer makes the case for a Chris Paul trade.

Paul, an All-Star in 2020 during his first season with the Thunder, is scheduled to earn $41.3M and $44.2M in the final two years of his current contract. The 35-year-old point guard could give All-Star guard/forward Ben Simmons more off-ball opportunities and serve as a first-rate facilitator for All-Star center Joel Embiid.

Pompey posits that forward Tobias Harris or center Al Horford could be packaged (presumably along with future draft equity) into a deal for Paul.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • New Nets head coach Steve Nash acknowledges that he was brought on board with the franchise because of his interpersonal relationships and culture-building skills, rather than his knowledge of X’s and O’s. “I think they understand that my acumen for the game is strong and I can catch up on any of the tactical aspects,” Nash told Pelicans guard J.J. Redick in a recent edition of Redick’s The Old Man and the Three podcast (per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News). “I think they hired me because of my experience, the personality to work with these guys and help them grow and reach their potential and bring it all together.”
  • Following an emotional postgame locker room conversation, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens held a late-evening hotel meeting with four of his frustrated stars, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart met with Stevens to unpack their feelings following a Game 2 loss to the Heat that puts Boston in an 0-2 hole for the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • Celtics forward Gordon Hayward is hoping to return to action for Game 3 on Saturday, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). Hayward’s addition to the active roster would give Boston much-needed lineup flexibility and shooting help.

Atlantic Notes: Hayward, Sixers, Nets, Leonard, VanVleet

The Celtics announced on Wednesday that forward Gordon Hayward is listed as doubtful for Thursday’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link).

As Bontemps points out, this is the first time Hayward has been upgraded from “out” since he suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Celtics replaced Hayward in the starting lineup with Marcus Smart, who is averaging 15.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 4.2 APG.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • After losing the development rights to Penn’s Landing to a rival bidder last week, the Sixers have signaled their dissatisfaction with playing at the Wells Fargo Center, writes Jacob Adelman of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers want their own arena for a variety of reasons, including the ability to gain schedule flexibility, which they currently do not have. Philadelphia’s lease at the Wells Fargo Center reportedly runs out in 2031. The Inquirer goes on to lists various locations within Philadelphia that the Sixers could use to build their new arena.
  • Long Island Nets guard Devin Cannady spoke with Alex Schiffer of The Athletic about working out with Nets superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Los Angeles. The NBA G League guard recalled a game of 2-on-2 where he had trouble defending Irving. Durant stopped the game and instead gave tips Cannady to help him. “If I got the confidence from KD,” Cannady said to Schiffer. “Then I don’t need to hold back anymore at all.” The former Princeton standout also said that Durant looks good and healthy in the workouts.
  • One of the reasons why Kawhi Leonard wanted to go to the Clippers is because he felt the Raptors weren’t good enough to repeat, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN (Twitter link). The Finals MVP reportedly said this last summer in his meeting with Toronto’s front office. Leonard ultimately ended up signing a three-year deal with Los Angeles and teaming up with Paul George. However, his old team didn’t experience a significant drop-off, finishing with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference and losing in Game 7 of the Eastern Semifinals.
  • With the Raptors’ season coming to an end last week, Blake Murphy of The Athletic explains what it would take to re-sign Fred VanVleet while also maintaining max cap space for the 2021 offseason. VanVleet is set to be an unrestricted free agent and is reportedly expected to receive interest from the Knicks, Pistons, and Suns. Murphy details various scenarios involving OG Anunoby‘s rookie-scale extension, which he is eligible for this offseason, the 2021 free-agent class, and Norman Powell‘s player option.

Celtics Notes: Hayward, Poirier, Walker

Gordon Hayward will miss Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals as he continues to recover from a right ankle sprain. The Celtics tweet that he’s out, though coach Brad Stevens said Hayward went through a “hard, small group workout” immediately after practice on Monday, Malika Andrews of ESPN tweets. Stevens went on to say that Hayward “looked good, but there’s a big difference between doing that and going into a game.”

We have more on the Celtics:

  • Center Vincent Poirier has cleared quarantine and practiced with the team on Monday, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets. Poirier left the Orlando campus for the birth of his first child. Poirier essentially gives the club another practice body, as he only appeared in one seeding game, along with a two-minute stint against Toronto in Game 1 of the Eastern semifinals.
  • Kemba Walker‘s production nosedived in the last two games against the Raptors but Stevens insists that his point guard’s knee “feels great,” the team tweets. Walker played 96 minutes in Games 6 and 7 and scored a combined 19 points on 7-for-27 shooting.
  • The Athletic’s beat reporters for the Celtics and Heat take a hard look at what most expect will be a hotly-contested series.

Gordon Hayward Expected To Return Against Heat

Celtics forward Gordon Hayward will likely return next round from a Grade 3 right ankle sprain, head coach Brad Stevens said after the team’s series-clinching Game 7 win over Toronto, as relayed by Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe (Twitter link).

Hayward cleared a five-day quarantine on Friday and was seen putting up shots pre-game. The 30-year-old last appeared in a game on August 11.

“Great effort by all the guys picking each other up tonight. Excited for the Conference Finals! #BleedGreen,” Hayward wrote on social media.

Boston has managed to defeat Philadelphia and Toronto without Hayward, a reliable option who averaged 17.5 points per game this season. While it appears likely he’ll return against the Heat, a specific timeline hasn’t been released by the club. It’s also unclear whether Hayward will be brought off the bench, as he started in all 52 games this season.

The Celtics are set to open the Eastern Conference Finals against an impressive Miami team on Tuesday night, with Game 2 slated for Thursday and Game 3 for Saturday. The team lost its only meeting against the Heat in Orlando 112-106 on August 4, with Jimmy Butler sitting out due to injury.

Stevens has coached the Celtics to the conference finals in three of the last four seasons, but the team hasn’t made the NBA Finals since 2010. The C’s lost a seven-game battle to the Heat during the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, though the only remaining member of either of those squads is Miami’s Udonis Haslem.

Atlantic Notes: Hayward, Lowry, Ivey, Gasol

The Celtics’ Gordon Hayward has cleared the quarantine process in Orlando, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets, but it’s uncertain whether he’ll be able to play in the conference finals if his team advances on Friday. Hayward suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain in the first round of the playoffs last month against the Sixers. He averaged 17.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 4.1 APG during the regular season.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Kyle Lowry doesn’t need any added incentive after leading the Raptors to a Game 7 showdown with Boston, but he’ll benefit monetarily if the Raptors reach the conference finals for the second consecutive season. Lowry will earn a $500K bonus if Toronto advances, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.
  • Knicks player development coach Royal Ivey is drawing interest from other teams, according to SNY’s Ian Begley. The Knicks aren’t sure whether they want to hold onto Ivey and it’s likely he’d be allowed out of his contract to pursue another job. At least one team was interested in giving Ivey a more prominent assistant’s role last season but the Knicks’ previous regime wouldn’t allow an interview. New York had plans to add a sixth assistant, but it’s unclear if that will happen, Begley adds.
  • Marc Gasol‘s stint with the Raptors is heading toward an unceremonious end, Michael Grange of Sportsnet Canada writes. The impending free agent center is averaging just 5.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG and 2.0 APG in the conference semifinals against Boston. Gasol is making $25.6MM in the final year of his contract.

Atlantic Notes: Nash, Nets, Celtics, Sixers

On Wednesday, the Nets officially introduced Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash as their new head coach. The 46-year-old, who has no prior coaching experience, will try to get Brooklyn to the NBA Finals with a healthy roster next season.

The Nets’ new head coach spoke about his lack of experience and the criticism he’s received at his introductory press conference. “Well, I did skip the line, frankly,” Nash said (h/t Tim Bontemps of ESPN). “But at the same time, I think leading an NBA team for almost two decades is pretty unique. So while I haven’t necessarily learned some of the skills that I’ll definitely seek to understand and learn as far as the technical aspects of coaching, I was never far from that.”

It will be interesting to see how the 46-year-old Nash leads a Nets team that features Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving next season at the Barclays Center.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Jacque Vaughn, who was the Nets’ interim coach after the team fired Kenny Atkinson in March, will be staying with the organization as Nash’s lead assistant. Despite missing many notable players down in the bubble, Vaughn had the Nets playing hard in the seeding games and playoffs. That effort did not go unnoticed by Nash, who is excited to work with Vaughn. “I think Jacque’s qualities speak for themselves,” Nash said (h/t Nets Daily). “He is an incredibly high character individual, extremely hard-working, prepared, and he is an all-around top human being so to have people like that to work with every day is incredible.”
  • Celtics forward Gordon Hayward has returned to the bubble in Orlando and is in quarantine until Friday, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). Hayward suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain in the first round of the playoffs last month against the Sixers. While the veteran forward’s return timeline is unclear and his quarantine period isn’t over, he’s allowed to leave his room once per day for exercise and rehab, according to Washburn.
  • Before the Sixers hire a new head coach, they need to address their front office issues, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. As previously reported, multiple league sources do not expect Alex Rucker, who is the team’s executive vice president of basketball operations, to return next season. Pompey adds that Rucker played a role behind-the-scenes in decision-making as the team leaned heavily on analytics. In addition to Rucker, assistant general manager Ned Cohen and VP of strategy Sergi Oliva were reportedly also involved in decision-making. There has been nothing as of yet on the futures of Cohen and Oliva.

Atlantic Notes: Ibaka, Hayward, Ainge, Sixers

Raptors center Serge Ibaka twisted his left ankle during the second half of the team’s Game 5 loss on Monday, potentially jeopardizing his status for Game 6 on Wednesday. As Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca tweets, Ibaka was in a walking boot today and said that he “will see” about his availability for Wednesday’s game.

Toronto’s initial injury report for Game 6 lists Ibaka as questionable. With the Raptors’ season on the line, down 3-2 to Boston, the big man will presumably do all he can to suit up.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Celtics forward Gordon Hayward is back on campus, but the team isn’t sure when he’ll clear quarantine and when he’ll be able to play, writes Tom Westerholm of MassLive.com. Meanwhile, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston wonders if the C’s will extend their season long enough for Hayward to contribute — Monday’s win certainly increased those odds.
  • Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who has suffered multiple mild heart attacks in the past, was advised by doctors that he’d be “at risk” if he contracts COVID-19, he tells Jackie MacMullan of ESPN. As a result, Ainge didn’t accompany the C’s to the Orlando campus and has been watching the team’s playoff run from afar. “My doctors said it would be best if I did not go,” Ainge said. “But, as we’ve gone along — and I’ve thought about it since — I say to myself, ‘Man, it feels to me like the bubble is the healthiest place to be.'”
  • While Brett Brown, Elton Brand, and the Sixers‘ supporting cast have taken much of the blame for the team’s lack of playoff success in recent years, Sopan Deb of The New York Times notes that Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid haven’t necessarily shown the growth expected of “prospective superstars” and questions whether either player is still capable of taking his play to another level.

Gordon Hayward Headed Back To Orlando

Gordon Hayward will return to the Disney World campus on Sunday night, but coach Brad Stevens doesn’t expect him to play “anytime soon,” the Celtics announced on Twitter.

Hayward, who has been sidelined since suffering a Grade III ankle sprain in Boston’s playoff opener, will have to quarantine for at least four days once he arrives. He was given a four- to six-week prognosis when the injury occurred, which was nearly three weeks ago. Stevens offered an update on Hayward earlier this week, saying he feels “a little bit better.”

Hayward has also informed the team that he plans to leave the campus when his wife gives birth to their fourth child sometime this month, so he may not play before departing again.

The ankle sprain is the latest in a series of injury frustrations Hayward has experienced since signing with the Celtics. He was in the midst of his best season since 2016/17, averaging 17.7 points, a career-high 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 52 games.