Not so fast. Celtics president of basketball ops Danny Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich that Hayward won’t be ready to play this season – not even if the C’s made it all the way to the NBA Finals.
“He’s just not there yet,” said Ainge. “He’s not doing the sprints and explosion and lateral movement at basketball speed yet. He needs to be doing that for quite a while before he gets onto a court and plays in an NBA playoff game.”
Ainge added that he thinks Hayward is still on schedule in his recovery from a fractured tibia and dislocated ankle, which he suffered early in the first quarter of the Celtics’ season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He simply doesn’t foresee the Celtics taking any chances with their prized forward.
As for Jaylen Brown, Ainge didn’t sound optimistic for the young guard’s chance to play in Thursday’s Game 2 against the Philadelphia 76ers. He continues to recover from a strained hamstring during Game 7 against the Milwaukee Bucks.
“He’ll keep working at it [Thursday],” said Ainge. “We definitely don’t wanna take any chances with Jaylen.”
Brown still has a glimmer of hope for playing, but it certainly sounds as definitive as ever that C’s fans will have to wait until next season to see Hayward back on the court in a real game.
Listen above for the full interview, from the start of hour 3 on Thursday’s Toucher & Rich show!