PHILADELPHIA — Celtics forward Gordon Hayward was released from the hospital and returned home on Friday afternoon, less than 48 hours after undergoing surgery to repair a grisly fracture dislocation of his left ankle that was sustained in the season-opener against the Cavaliers on Tuesday.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Hayward’s rehabilitation process will begin immediately.
“There’s an every-day plan,” Stevens said. “It starts yesterday.”
When Stevens drove to TD Garden prior to his team’s home opener against the Bucks on Wednesday, his mind was understandably on Hayward, so he called his close friend and Orlando Magic coach Frank Vogel, who coached the Pacers when Indiana star Paul George was working his way back from a gruesome compound fracture of his left leg sustained while playing for Team USA in August 2014.
“[I] just asked him, ‘What are some of the things that Paul did in his year off that you would really encourage? What are some of the things that we should be looking at?’ ” Stevens said. “And, hey, he’s going to be the best guy shooting out of a chair with his left hand, with his right hand, perfect his form, and let’s have fun. Let’s come up with creative ways to attack this thing.”
Stevens said Vogel offered some useful tips, including shooting baskets from a chair. Stevens said it would be easy for Hayward to “hole up” knowing he’s going to be out for an extended period of time, but he thinks it will be important for him to stay as active as possible in the coming months.
Hayward underwent surgery at New England Baptist Hospital late Wednesday night. Stevens visited him there on Thursday, and he said Hayward’s outlook remained positive.
“He’s obviously, post-surgery, having some of the post-surgery challenges of pain and everything else,” Stevens said. “But the surgery went great. His spirits were pretty positive yesterday. We talked a little bit about how to approach the next five months with maintaining that positivity. Different ways to stay engaged, different ways to approach this, to attack this. And he was ready to get started on his rehab the minute he got out of surgery.”
Player can be added
The Celtics will apply for salary cap relief to potentially pursue another player because of the severity of Hayward’s injury. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge said on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.
“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”
The Celtics have not projected a return date but Ainge said Hayward is expected to miss the rest of the season.
The Disabled Player Exception allows teams over the salary cap that lose players to serious injuries extra space to add a player. An NBA-mandated doctor has to rule that Hayward is likely to miss most of the season and the Celtics have until March 10 to use the exception.
If the Celtics receive and use the exception, it does not mean Hayward is ineligible to return this season.
If the Celtics acquire a new player with the exception the deal can be only for one year, meaning the Celtics could use the exception in a trade but only on a player with an expiring contract. The exception can’t be used on multiple players and does not create a new roster spot, but the Celtics already have one open. Ainge said that the team will be focused on the swingman position.
“I think replacing Gordon is by far our greatest need,” Ainge said. “I think we have a lot of guys who can play the big position.”
Smart sits out
Celtics guard Marcus Smart rolled his ankle after colliding with teammate Jaylen Brown in the Celtics’ game against the Bucks on Wednesday and sat out against the 76ers on Friday.
“It’s the third game of the season so we’re just trying to take every precaution and every step that we need necessary to make sure that when I do come back . . . my health will be 100 percent,” Smart said.
The shorthanded Celtics are already without Hayward as well as forward Marcus Morris, whose sore knee has kept him from playing so far this season.
“About another week,” Morris said. “Every day it’s getting better. Work hard and put more pressure on it. I’ve done a lot of conditioning, so my shape is better. Hopefully trying to get back next week.”