Gordon Hayward, in blog post, expresses thanks for support

Associated Press
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BOSTON (AP) — Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics says he knows he will not play again this season, after needing surgery to repair a grotesque leg injury on opening night last month.

The announcement, on Hayward’s Facebook page, came as little surprise given the severity of the injury. Hayward wrote about several previously unrevealed aspects of the injury and the aftermath, including how four people – including Celtics coach Brad Stevens – were needed to carry him onto the plane that night in Cleveland, and how even former President Barack Obama has been among those sending well-wishes for his recovery.

“I honestly can’t say enough about everyone’s kindness,” Hayward wrote.

Hayward is expected to hold a news conference at the Celtics’ facility in Waltham, Massachusetts, on Thursday. He also has taped an interview that will appear Thursday on NBC’s “Today.”

Hayward was injured about 5 minutes into the opener at Cleveland, a shocking end to a season of great expectations. Hayward was one of the marquee prizes of free agency this past summer, leaving Utah and signing with Boston to chase an NBA title and reunite with Stevens, his college coach at Butler.

“I keep imagining what it’s going to be like to step onto the floor at the Garden, and make my regular season debut as a Celtic,” Hayward wrote. “It’s going to be a little delayed. But with each day of my rehab, I’ll be that much closer to making it happen. I’m already dreaming about sharing that moment with everyone here in Boston.”

Hayward said when he saw his foot pointing the wrong way after his awkward landing, the pain was not initially very intense. It was, however, when doctors tending to him on the floor tried to re-set his ankle.

“The moment they did it, there was just a massive shot of pain, probably the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life,” Hayward wrote.

The Celtics lost in Cleveland that night, and Hayward was with the team for the flight home. The Celtics played their home opener the next night, while Hayward was in surgery.

“On the flight back, my teammates all came by to encourage me,” Hayward wrote. “It was very emotional for me to see how all of these new teammates of mine, guys who I had only spent a few weeks with at that point, were so sincere about their concern for me. Their support has at times overwhelmed me and it will not be forgotten.”

Hayward said he’s heard from plenty of stars from the NBA and other sports, like NFL stars Odell Beckham Jr. and J.J. Watt, retired Lakers great Kobe Bryant – and Oklahoma City’s Paul George, who also had a horrible fracture while playing for USA Basketball in 2014.

“He knows better than anyone, maybe, exactly what it is I’m going through, and will be going through,” Hayward wrote. “I’m thankful that he reached out right away, and that’s he’s someone I can continue to talk to.”

As for Obama, who is a huge basketball fan?

“That was a pretty big deal,” Hayward said.

Hayward said it was difficult at first to watch Celtics games, knowing he couldn’t play. But he’s started watching, and hopes to have some sort of role the rest of the season.

“I know I can’t help them physically on the court, but I am going to do everything in my power to support my teammates and coaches in every way imaginable,” Hayward wrote. “Whether it’s breaking down film or just providing leadership and guidance, I can’t wait to give back. I’ve already received so much.”

Knicks’ Obi Toppin out at least 2-3 weeks with knee fracture

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Obi Toppin is a fan favorite and Knicks faithful were hoping to see more of him as the season progresses.

However, they are not going to see any of him for at least the next 2-3 weeks due to a fractured knee, the team announced.

Toppin suffered the injury in New York’s win Wednesday over Atlanta, the same game that saw Dejounte Murray sprain his ankle leading him to be out for a few weeks.

Toppin — the reigning All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk contest champion — is averaging 7.7 points in 25 games off the bench. With him out, coach Tom Thibodeau suggested he could lean more on RJ Barrett, asking him to play up at the four.

Report: Zach LaVine not available for trade from Bulls

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Front offices of potential contenders from Los Angeles to Philadelphia have their eyes on the Chicago Bulls — will the struggling Bulls pivot to chase Victor Wembanyama and the top of the lottery, making them sellers at the trade deadline? Teams have interest in Chicago’s three stars: Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic.

Except just-extended LaVine isn’t currently available, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Wednesday on his network’s pregame show discussing the Knicks.

“The Knicks will be watching Chicago. Is Zach LaVine a player who before the deadline possibly can become available? He certainly isn’t now.”

Chicago is not yet ready to pivot to tanking, so none of its stars are truly available. That said, the Bulls don’t look like a playoff team, they miss Lonzo Ball, and even if things do come together where do they stand in the East hierarchy? If the Bulls do become sellers, they aren’t going to tear this team down to the studs, it would likely be trading just one star. Possibly a second if the offer was strong enough.

LaVine — who signed a five-year, $215 million extension this past summer — is the least likely to be available, league sources have told NBC Sports. The expectation is that Vucevic would be the Bull first made available if the Bulls decide to start seriously listening to offers. And that remains an “if.”

That said, front offices around the league have their eyes trained on Chicago.

Dejounte Murray added to growing Hawks injury report, out 2-3 weeks with sprained ankle

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John Collins is out for at least another week with a sprained ankle. DeAndre Hunter has been out with a strained hip flexor.

Now you can add Dejounte Murray to the Hawks’ growing injury report, he is out at least 2-3 weeks with a sprained ankle, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic report.

The injury happened on a closeout from RJ Barrett of the Knicks.

The Hawks have already had chemistry and fit issues this season, and missing key players for an extended period only exacerbates the problem. Atlanta looked flat getting their doors blown off by the Knicks Wednesday night, 113-89, a game that added to a string where they have lost 5-of-7. Now they will have to find a way to right the ship without their second-best playmaker.

There also is an update on the Hawks’ play-by-play announcer Bob Rathbun.

NBA, WNBA players react to news Brittney Griner coming home

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Brittney Griner is finally coming home.

The WNBA and USA Basketball star has spent 10 months in Russian prisons — including being convicted and sent to a Russian penal colony — for having vape canisters with small amounts of cannabis oil in her luggage as she went through Russian airport security back in February. She became a political pawn in the tensions between the United States and Russia, mostly surrounding Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, and was freed via a prisoner swap announced Thursday.

The basketball world — WNBA players in particular — had worked to keep her name front and not let Griner be forgotten during this ordeal, pushing President Joe Biden and the government to reach a deal. With the news Griner was freed, NBA and WNBA players took to social media to react.

“Brittney has had to endure an unimaginable situation and we’re thrilled that she is on her way home to her family and friends,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We thank the members of the NBA and WNBA community who never wavered in their efforts to raise awareness of Brittney’s unjust circumstances.”

“We are overwhelmed with relief and gratitude that our sister Brittney Griner is finally coming home,” the NBPA said in a statement. “Her strength and courage throughout this last year have been truly remarkable, as have the efforts of her wife Cherelle, our WNBPA sisters, Terri Jackson and the WNBPA staff, who have been relentless in their call to bring Brittney home. We know this homecoming would not have been possible without their unwavering support and continued work to keep BG always top of mind, and our players are honored to have contributed to those efforts. While this is a celebratory moment for our sisters and us, we must not forget the other political prisoners who remain in dire circumstances all over the world. These individuals must be remembered and fought for every single day as BG was so that they too can have this moment. Welcome home Brittney, we are so happy to have you back! #WeAreBG”