We have been waiting to see Gordon Hayward back in action for the Boston Celtics for some time. Like, since the first game of last year.
The former Utah Jazz forward fractured his tibia and dislocated his ankle during the first minutes of the initial game of the 2017-18 NBA season. It has been a long recovery since then for Hayward, who will be added to a Celtics roster that already has considerable firepower.
We have been teased over the course of the year and all summer with videos and news of Hayward’s progress. The final step before getting in some actual NBA action is playing in 5-on-5 drills, which coach Brad Stevens says should happen sometime soon.
We still don’t know what the plan for Hayward’s return this season will be. The first regular matchup of the year is on Oct. 16 against the Philadelphia 76ers. There is still significant time for Hayward to get into the rhythm of playing with his new teammates along with weighing out his particular role.
It seems likely that Hayward will immediately be a starter for Boston once he is deemed fully healthy and ready to go. The Celtics then have some rotational issues that could bruise some egos, but will lend them more rotational fluidity than many rivals in the Eastern Conference. It seems unlikely that Hayward will miss the season opener, so by any reasonable measurement he is on track to be back for meaningful games.
Now we just have to wait and see what fans will chant for him as he returns to an NBA floor.