Utah Jazz: Gordon Hayward goes from hopeful to doubtful
SALT LAKE CITY — Gordon Hayward had his hopes up that he'd in uniform for the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Jazz's sixth man has missed the past eight games with a sprained right shoulder, and he participated in today's practice in an effort to to get back onto the court.
"We'll see how it goes today," Hayward said before practice. "If all goes well, I'd say there's a pretty good chance."
After Hayward tested his shoulder out in practice, however, the Jazz listed him as "doubtful" for Tuesday.
Hayward has been sidelined since suffering a grade-one shoulder sprain against the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 26.
He's been doing cardio work, but Hayward said conditioning and wind issues are his biggest concerns about coming back. He called his pain "minimal." He isn't too concerned about taking hits on the shoulder and will wear padding to help absorb contact.
Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey explained that Hayward has a tinge of soreness when he moves his right arm back in a natural running motion.
Lindsey said the Jazz are taking a "cautious" approach to injuries because long-term health is more important than the immediate risk/reward of bringing players back sooner if not fully recovered.
"Hopefully, if he doesn’t play before the All-Star break, he'll play there soon after," Lindsey said. "I think a lot of credit goes to Ty (Corbin) and the team that we've been able to stabilize without him."
Utah has gone 4-4 without Hayward in the lineup.
"It's been real difficult just to sit out on the sideline and have to just watch and can't really do much," Hayward said. "It'll be good to get back out there."
Hayward said it's helped him to cope having Mo Williams out with him. Williams is scheduled to have the pin removed from his surgically repaired thumb this Friday.
"Misery loves company, I guess. With him back there, we can both talk about the game and see what's going on. It's good to have him there," Hayward said. "I probably am a lot more grumpy because I just have to sit there and watch."
SICK LEAVE: Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin doesn't wish anyone ill, well, unless it helps his team win. Asked how his team can slow down Thunder stars Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, the Jazz coach joked: "Hopefully, they have the flu."
Then again, that didn't turn out so well when Michael Jordan was under the weather when they played in the Finals back in the day.
"We have to make them work hard for everything they get. Every time they get the ball in their hands, they have to see bodies — from strong side and weak side because they're such early attackers," Corbin added. "They're just two dynamic scorers."
TOUGH MONTH: After going 10-4 in January, the Jazz have struggled to a 4-4 record in February. What's the difference?
"Two different months," Corbin said, sarcastically.
"It's the NBA season. You've just got to keep playing," he added, less sarcastically. "You have spurts when you're playing really well and spurts when you're playing even and hopefully not too many spurts where you're playing not as good as you want for a long period of time. The opponents are different."
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