Lost amid the Celtics rubble from a disastrous series against the Bucks was an ugly finish to the year by Gordon Hayward. The former All-Star battled through an up-and-down year in his first season back from a brutal ankle injury but proved to be a shell of himself on the biggest stage. He shot 34 percent from the field in the series against the Bucks, averaging just 7.4 points and 3.3 assists despite averaging 28 minutes per game. He was a replacement-level player for most of the series, as the Celtics lost four straight games in an ugly fashion.
Hayward was back at the Auerbach Center on Thursday morning to go through an exit interview with the coaching staff before heading out for the summer and reflected on the struggle the year had been for him and the franchise.
"I think, obviously, not the way we wanted it to go," he said. "Very frustrating for us, but I think, credit the Bucks first off. They beat us and played really well. They took us out of what we wanted to do. All credit goes to them but frustrating for us."
While other players on the roster may be eager for some time off after a challenging year, Hayward sounded motivated by the challenge that lies ahead. There was some understandable dropoff in his play just a year removed from injury but Hayward wants to ensure that does not occur again next season.
"Certainly, a frustrating season, a disappointing season and very challenging for me individually," he said. "I think a lot of people felt that way throughout the course of the season. For me, personally, just excited to get to an offseason without having to deal with the injury and rehabbing.
"It's going to be a really challenging offseason for me with the work I'm going to put in. I'm looking forward to attacking that and like I said, it's a lot easier to get ready for this offseason than it was last year. I don't have to worry about the ankle or anything. That's kind of how I move forward, using this season as some motivation and fuel. Just looking forward to attacking it."
With two years remaining on his initial four-year max contract (player option in the final season), the safe money is Hayward returning to Boston next season.