Gordon Hayward can jog, which is great, but doesn't mean he's coming back this season

Gordon Hayward’s not ready to say “never” just yet. (Getty)

Hey, this is neat: Gordon Hayward can jog again!

No AlterG anti-gravity treadmill to reduce the impact of his body weight on his surgically repaired left leg. No assistance of any kind, really — just an NBA player, reconstructed and working back toward whole, running back and forth under his own steam:

That is a cool thing to see, some 5 1/2 months after Hayward suffered a devastating dislocated left ankle and fractured left tibia in the first quarter of his first regular-season game as a member of the Boston Celtics. And yet, as has been the case throughout Hayward’s season-long rehabilitation effort — which has been spent slowly, quietly, consistently and repeatedly stoking the belief that, despite the post-surgery assessment, the All-Star forward might not be done for the year — the Celtics would like very much for everyone watching Hayward’s videos on The Players’ Tribune to stop envisioning him suiting up for a 2018 playoff game.

From Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald:

“I saw that video,” said coach Brad Stevens before the Celtics went through practice then flew to Milwaukee for Tuesday’s game. “It’s pretty slow running. I was up there watching it the other morning when they did that.

“The next step of his progression is once every three days he gets on the court and does that. So as you can see it was about 20 percent speed, nothing lateral, no jumping. So a long, long way away.” […]

“But we’ve said it before: we can talk about the videos; he’s not playing,” Stevens said. “But he might travel [with the team for the season’s last road game in Washington next week], and maybe we’ll list him as something.”

Stevens has continued to strike a balance in his public commentary about Hayward’s frequent video updates on his rehab. On one hand, Stevens emphasizes how pleased he is by his player’s commitment to the project and the progres he’s made; on the other, he continues to insist that the Celtics will not be getting some surprise late-season miracle return from the star player they signed to a maximum-salaried contract last summer.

“I think every day where he can accomplish something new is a big deal,” Stevens said, according to Tom Westerholm of MassLive.com. “He’s in here six days a week. He gets one off day a week where he gets to rest it and still gets treatment on it and everything else. But everything else, he gets those small accomplishments, and those are a big deal when you’re rehabbing.”

A big deal, yes, considering just how far he’s come since October. But not an indication that he’s anywhere close to ready to return. (Not that that’s going to stop him from continuing to give Celtics fans 30-second sneak peeks at every turn.)

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Dan Devine is a writer and editor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@oath.com or follow him on Twitter!

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