Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens dismissed suggestions Gordon Hayward could return from a fractured ankle this NBA season.
Hayward ignited a mini firestorm on Friday when he released a video on The Players Tribune of his current rehab program from the injury he suffered in the Celtics' season-opening loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Hayward is seen doing ball-handling and shooting drills and his jump shot looked good and comfortable.
The story ran with just two lines of text: "Patience. One goal. More coming soon on my road back to the court."
Stevens faced plenty of questions at shootaround on Saturday and he put all of the rumours to bed immediately about the possibility of a late-season return for the All-Star forward.
Brad Stevens with his most definitive “he’s not playing this year” in regard to Gordon Hayward at shootaround this morning. pic.twitter.com/HxBr69ssXj— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) March 3, 2018
"He's not playing this year," Stevens told reporters. "I don't know what else to say."
It may be a hard pill to swallow for Celtics fans who saw just how comfortable Hayward looked in the video, but one line of dialogue from the forward's trainer gave a more accurate look into his current state of rehabilitation.
"We haven't pushed it that hard in a while, let's ramp it up again," he said. "We've done a lot of ball handling, a lot of shooting, we've just got to keep building it up."
If Hayward has to keep building things up it is pretty clear he is not game ready yet. Stevens elaborated on where the 27-year-old is in the recovery process.
"I think the videos are great, too. Because, like, it continues to show the progress," the Celtics coach said.
"Sometimes when you're in the midst of that long rehab, you don't feel the progress of the day to day... now we all might see a video or somebody that hasn't seen him may [have] seen a video and say, 'Man, he really is getting better'. But he's a super long way away from even being on one-on-zero workout where he's cutting."