Stevens: I've never spoken to Hayward about returning this season

Omar Rawlings / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Ever since he broke his leg on opening night, there's been no shortage of speculation and wishful thinking about the possibility that Gordon Hayward might return to the Boston Celtics at some point this season.

Hayward has made significant progress in his recovery, shedding his boot last month, doing stationary shooting drills, and slowly working toward running. He's said he's open to the possibility of playing again this year, but with just 24 regular-season games remaining, that remains a distant proposition. He's yet to have a discussion about it with Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

"My mindset is he's not coming back," Stevens told Yahoo's Chris Mannix on Monday. "I think that's the way that we've all approached it. Gordon and I have never had a conversation about him coming back. It's always been about, 'How do you feel, how are you progressing, are you able to move to the next thing?'

"It's a long, long journey back, and there's no way to rush that. You just have to do it step by step, day by day. So, I've never considered or planned for the idea (of him returning)."

Stevens is all for celebrating Hayward's progress, as demonstrated for the public through medical updates and occasional bits of video, but he also wants to temper the expectations those updates can incite.

"This was a hard injury, it was a hard thing to go through physically and emotionally. It's good to celebrate those small steps," Stevens said. "But I don't think people should equate that with playing in an NBA game anytime soon."

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Stevens: I've never spoken to Hayward about returning this season
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