Gordon Hayward is roughly two weeks away from being out of his walking boot completely, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher and Rich" on Thursday.
"He’s progressing along,” Ainge said. “He can take the boot off for short periods of time, but yeah, he’s doing really well."
“His therapy is going great. He’s right on schedule. He’s doing sometimes two workouts a day trying to get stronger. And the next phases are just getting out of the boot completely, but I still think that’s a couple weeks away from being permanently out of the boot.”
Hayward suffered a fractured left tibia and dislocated left ankle in gruesome fashion in the first quarter of the Celtics' season-opener against the Cavaliers on Oct. 17. Hayward fell awkwardly and his left leg buckled underneath him unnaturally. His leg was visibly disfigured, and the Cavs bench had an animated reaction to the gnarly image in front of them. Play was stopped for multiple minutes before Hayward was carried off the court.
Hayward's wife Robyn posted a video of Hayward holding his daughter on his lap to her Instagram story, and in the video Hayward was not wearing a walking boot. That piqued interest as to Hayward's rehab progress and the possibility of a return this season.
"He hasn’t expressed (wanting to return this season), but just knowing professional athletes, I know that down inside he wants to be back faster than anybody has ever been back from this kind of injury,” Ainge told "Toucher and Rich," per NESN. “He’s got a competitive streak to him and he’s asking lots of questions. … He’s diligent in his rehab. “I know what’s going on in his mind, but I don’t think he’ll say anything about how fast he wants to get back.”
Hayward previously expressed doubt that he'll return this season, but Ainge's quotes seem to keep that possibility open, no matter how improbable that is.
The Celtics have adjusted to life without Hayward about as well as possible. After starting the season 0-2, Boston has won 22 of 24 to shoot to the top of the Eastern Conference standings, where they hold a three-game lead in the loss column over Cleveland.
After spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Jazz, Hayward, 27, signed a max contract with the Celtics this summer. He averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists last year in Utah.