HOUSTON -- The day after The Players' Tribune posted a video highlighting Gordon Hayward's rehab from a fractured ankle, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens offered his most definitive comments of the year by saying Hayward will not play again during the 2017-18 season.
"He's not playing this year. I don't know what else to say," said Stevens, who has fielded an increased amount of questions about Hayward's progress in recent weeks.
On Friday, Hayward tweeted The Players' Tribune video with a caption, "Patience. One goal," and hinted that more details were coming about his rehab. The sight of Hayward getting a tiny bit of lift on his jump shot during workouts filmed on the West Coast in late January and early February left some observers wondering if he was making the sort of progress that might make a return this season possible.
In recent weeks, Stevens and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge had noted that Hayward was making progress but still wasn't even ready to travel with the team until he had reached the point where he could do workouts away from the alter-G anti-gravity treadmill that he's been forced to use while waiting for clearance to run at full body weight on the injured ankle.
Hayward fractured the ankle on opening night in Cleveland, and both player and team have stressed that they did not anticipate a return this season but never definitively closed the door.
Stevens has repeatedly suggested he would not put limits on Hayward's rehab but was both playful and emphatic when asked about the latest video on Saturday morning.
"Did he dunk?" Stevens deadpanned when told that this was the first time we had seen video of Hayward jumping.
"He's progressing, yes. He did another alter-G [treadmill] workout this morning," Stevens said. "He's up to 60 percent of his weight on the alter-G. If you've ever run on the alter-G, that feels like you're flying without your legs touching the ground. It's great.
"And I think the videos are great, too. Because, like, it continues to show the progress. Sometimes when you're in the midst of that long rehab, you don't feel the progress of the day to day the way now we all might see a video or somebody that hasn't seen him may seen a video and say, 'Man, he really is getting better.' But he's a super long way away from even being on 1-on-0 workout where he's cutting."
A reporter playfully asked if we should ask Stevens for another update on Sunday.
"Yeah, check back tomorrow," cracked Stevens before jokingly adding, "He'll be doubtful Monday."