Utah Jazz alums: Gordon Hayward is ‘basically 100 percent’

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 13: Boston Celtics' Gordon Hayward walks across the floor in uniform following a photo shoot after meeting with the media at the team's practice facility in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston to give an update on his condition as he comes back from the left ankle/foot injury he suffered during last season's opening game in Cleveland on Sep. 13, 2018. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 13: Boston Celtics' Gordon Hayward walks across the floor in uniform following a photo shoot after meeting with the media at the team's practice facility in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston to give an update on his condition as he comes back from the left ankle/foot injury he suffered during last season's opening game in Cleveland on Sep. 13, 2018. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) /
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Former Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is just about ready to play in the Boston Celtics’ season opener on October 16.

It’s been 11 months since former Utah Jazz star Gordon Hayward‘s ill-fated debut with the Boston Celtics. Mere moments into Boston’s 2017-18 season opener, Hayward fractured his tibia and ankle on an alley-oop attempt gone awry. Since then, little has been seen or heard from him outside of the occasional blog update or Players’ Tribune article.

Hayward finally broke his silence during a media rap session at the Celtics’ practice facility on Thursday. I think it’s safe to say that his latest update qualifies as “hot newz.”

The 2017 Western Conference All-Star revealed that he’s been playing full-contact five-on-five ball for the last two weeks. Not only that — he’s “basically 100 percent.”

He was even snapped by ESPN’s Chris Forsberg wearing his old No. 20 in Celtics green —

Obviously, this is big news for both the Celtics and Hayward, who entered into a four-year, $128 million pact in July of 2017. And it leads us to the biggest question of all: what’s Hayward’s status for the Celtics’ October 16 season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers? According to the man himself, it’s full-steam ahead.

“100 percent I expect to be out there,” he told the assembled media (via Celtics.com).

Whether or not he’ll be available when the Jazz host the Celtics on November 9 may be a dicier situation. The game falls on the wrong side of a back-to-back set and Boston may be reluctant to trot Hayward out to the court on consecutive nights so early into his comeback campaign.

The Jazz will make their only appearance in Beantown just eight days later which, as fate would have it, will also be the back end of a back-to-back for the Cs. So, it’s entirely possible that Hayward could go yet another year without facing his old squad.

In any case, Hayward is just glad to be nearing his return.

“It’s so much fun being able to play again, and play with my teammates,” he said (via ESPN). “Using these past two weeks, and the next month or so, will be good to kind of get back into the game, feel the rhythm, the timing, different things like that. But it feels pretty good.”

In his last season with the Jazz, Hayward averaged 22 points, five boards and more than three assists per contest. He also knocked down 47 percent of his shot attempts, 40 percent from 3-point range and 84 percent from the charity stripe. If he can get back to being even 90 percent of the player he was, the loaded Celtics will be tough to top in the Eastern Conference.

Next. Snyder a tough nut to crack, Gobert just crackin' skulls. dark

Regardless of what happens, though, even the most surly of his spurned former fans in Salt Lake City have to be happy that he’s made it back from such a gruesome injury.