BOSTON — Celtics forward Gordon Hayward underwent surgery to repair a dislocated left ankle and a fractured tibia and is expected to miss the rest of the season, his agent, Mark Bartelstein, told ESPN.
After surgery tonight, Boston’s Gordon Hayward is unlikely to return this season, agent Mark Bartelstein told ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 19, 2017
Bartelstein also told ESPN “we expect him to make a full recovery and return to his All-Star form.”
Prior to the Celtics’ home opener, Hayward sent a video message from his hospital bed before, telling Boston fans: “It’s hurting me that I can’t be there.”
The crowd at the TD Garden for the Celtics’ game against the Milwaukee Bucks cheered when Marcus Smart directed fans’ attention to the scoreboard, where Hayward appeared wearing a hospital gown and sitting up in bed. The arena hushed to hear the brief message, then erupted in another cheer when it was over.
“What’s up, everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who’s had me in their thoughts and prayers,” Hayward said in the 30-second message, which was also sent out by the team on Twitter .
“I’m going to be all right,” Hayward said. “It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more than to be with my teammates and walk out on that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here, and wishing you the best of luck.”
After signing with Boston in the offseason as a free agent, Hayward was injured in the sixth minute of his first game for the Celtics, crumpling to the floor Tuesday in Cleveland with a gruesome ankle injury. Players on both teams reacted in horror on at the site of Hayward’s leg bent unnaturally, but coach Brad Stevens said he did not see the injury live and has avoided watching replays.
“Having known him as long as I’ve known him, it’s tough to see him go through this,” said Stevens, who was also Hayward’s college coach at Butler. “We’ll make sure he knows that we’ve got our arms around him.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before Wednesday’s 108-100 loss to the Bucks that Hayward was “down” after the injury that occurred a little more than five minutes into his Boston debut.
“I was [at the hospital] for a minute last night and also again today for an hour or so. He’s down,” Stevens said. “Obviously, there’s a physical pain to it, but I think it’s also doubled by the emotional pain of, you know, he put a lot of effort into trying to start this, his career, out well in Boston.
“But this is a setback; we’re expecting a full recovery. And we know there are going to be a lot of tough days ahead on that recovery but, at the same time, hopefully he’ll improve day to day. But it’s been tough. It’s been tough for him.”
Per ESPN.com, Stevens said that the Celtics are now trying to figure out how to best fill Hayward’s vacancy on the roster.
“I think that we will probably look at the roster spot,” Stevens said. “We are bringing [rookie] Jabari Bird back and using one of his [G-League] two-way days today. I think we will at least be actively looking for that roster spot, just because, obviously, the standpoint of the youth, but also because you lose one of your better shooters and more versatile players. A guy who can put the ball in the basket for you.
“We’ll see how that works itself out. We haven’t really gotten into it too much because we have our hands full tonight.”
Through it all, though, Hayward’s teammates continue to keep him in their thoughts.
Get well soon Gordon 💚 pic.twitter.com/LBhLep1I75
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 18, 2017
“It’s definitely been tough,” said rookie forward Jayson Tatum. “We’re just keeping Gordon in our prayers, hoping everything is all right.”
Fans who never got to see Hayward in a Celtics uniform lined up before Wednesday night’s game to sign a banner imploring him to get better and “come back stronger than ever” from the injury. Other fans held up hand-made signs wishing him well.
Celtics forward Daniel Theis wrote “GH20” on his shoe, and a fair number of Hayward’s No. 20 jerseys were visible in the crowd.
After playing his first seven years with the Utah Jazz, Hayward signed a four-year, $128 million contract this offseason to rejoin Stevens in Boston – part of a near-complete roster overhaul for the team that finished first in the Eastern Conference last season.
The team also traded fan favorite Isaiah Thomas to Cleveland for fellow All-Star Kyrie Irving and shipped out regular starters Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder. In all, just four players on the roster finished last season with the team.
Taking Hayward’s minutes, Smart scored 12 points and had nine rebounds on Tuesday night. Smart moved into the starting lineup on Wednesday night against the Bucks.
“He put a lot of effort into starting his career well in Boston,” Stevens said of Hayward. “This is a setback, but there’s going to be a full recovery.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.