Gordon Hayward and Danny Ainge raised the profile of Hayward's recovery on Tuesday by posting a photo of the All-Star forward not wearing a brace on his injured ankle. While questions swirled around the impact of this development on Hayward's recovery timetable, Brad Stevens tried to downplay any heightened expectations for Hayward's eventual return in a conference call from London on Wednesday.
"Obviously, nothing has changed with his timeline, or this isn't like a huge ordeal," Stevens said of Hayward not wearing a brace. "This is what was expected. I don't know exactly the time of it, I think we're approaching 12 weeks out or something like that, and that was where he was anticipated to be if the treatment would continue to go well would be moving out of the boot, then the brace, and now being able to do without. I'm not sure if that's like a 24-hour thing right now (of him not wearing a brace). I haven't talked to anybody back in Boston since we landed."
Stevens was also pressed on whether he believed anything has changed regarding Hayward's eventual recovery timeline and the possibility he could return to the court this year.
"No change in our expectations from what we thought at the time of the surgery," Stevens explained. "This is the process of the rehab and everything else after the surgery happened and after it went well. So, again, nobody's told me anything any different, and we've been in pretty constant contact until I got over here (to London). So I would say that there's really nothing more to read into."
BSJ Analysis: Stevens is always going to take a cautious tone when talking about Hayward's recovery, since it makes no sense for him to place added pressure on the forward in regards to the the possibility that Hayward could return this year. However, his comments line up with the analysis of Dr. Flynn from Wednesday night. The timing of everything is on schedule, not ahead of schedule, and that's a good thing. This storyline will linger into the closing months of the season but it's evident still that Hayward has a very long way to go before a return this year even becomes a serious consideration.