After a grueling rehab and recovery process, Gordon Hayward is almost ready to get back on the court.
The small forward suffered a horrific ankle injury just five minutes into his debut with the Boston Celtics last season and has had to endure a long journey to get himself healthy again.
But his comeback is almost complete as he’s scheduled to take part in training camp with no limitations.
General manager Danny Ainge recently revealed that Hayward – along with Kyrie Irving – should be at “full speed” when the team convenes later this month.
In a further update, head coach Brad Stevens has confirmed that he will be cleared to play 5-on-5 soon.
“He’ll be cleared to go some 5-on-5 here very, very, very soon — like, any time soon,” he said, per Jay King of The Athletic.
Stevens also said the 28-year-old looks good and that “you can’t tell anything” when you watch him play.
He also described his return as “almost like you’re adding a brand new player to your team”, which is a cliche but it’s fair to say it’s almost literal in this sense.
Hayward signed a four-year, $128 million deal with the Celtics and had huge hopes of competing for a championship before that was cruelly cut short.
But the All-Star will have an even better opportunity to do just that next season as Boston has been installed as the favourite to win the east.
The latest Vegas odds have the C’s on a collision course with the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals.
Their championship odds have been placed at 5/1, second to the defending champions who are at 1/2, via the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
Hayward’s return is expected to add extra firepower to an already loaded Celts team.
He averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in his final season for the Utah Jazz.
If he’s able to overcome the mental and physical challenges that await him and get back to his best, he’ll be a major asset.
The departure of LeBron James from the east has opened the door and the men from Beantown are primed to take full advantage.
With a hugely talented young core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier, along with the star power of Hayward, Irving and Al Horford, Boston will be a formidable force that’ll take some stopping.
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