CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Hornets forward Gordon Hayward will be lost for at least four weeks with a right foot sprain, the team announced Saturday.
Hayward injured his foot on a drive to the rim in the first half of Friday’s road victory over the Indiana Pacers. Based on video replay, he appeared to step on the foot of Pacers center Myles Turner, then slipped to the floor. Hayward, who grew up in Indiana, was having a big game prior to that injury, totaling 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists in 19 minutes.
A physician’s exam in Indianapolis Saturday confirmed the initial diagnosis and established Hayward will be re-evaluated in approximately four weeks. That means Hayward would miss a minimum of 14 games in April, but could be available for the last 10 or so before the regular season concludes May 16.
Hayward is 31 and in his 11th NBA season. He suffered a devastating leg injury four seasons ago, his first with the Boston Celtics. The Hornets successfully recruited him as a free agent after he opted out of the final year on his Celtics contract.
Hayward has missed four previous games this season with three separate injuries: A left hip strain, lower back discomfort and a right hand contusion. He suffered a fractured finger in the preseason, but recovered in time to play in the Hornets’ season-opener.
With Hayward out, Hornets coach James Borrego started Miles Bridges at small forward in the second half against the Pacers and Bridges finished with a team-high 23 points and 10 rebounds. Bridges has played primarily power forward as a reserve this season, but started last season at small forward before the Hornets acquired Hayward as a free agent.
Borrego said he’s comfortable starting Bridges at small forward if Hayward misses time. The complication, with LaMelo Ball (broken wrist) and Malik Monk (sprained ankle) already hurt, is the stress on Charlotte’s depth and scoring options.
Brad Wanamaker and Cody Martin picked up the bench minutes in the second half Friday, with Hayward out.
Sunday is the Hornets’ first game this season against the Celtics. The Hornets and Celtics worked out a sign-and-trade for Hayward, $120 million, 4-year contract, so that Boston could salvage a traded-player exception from losing Hayward.
Three Hornets — Terry Rozier, Hayward and Wanamaker — are all ex-Celtics. Boston has struggled this season, and at 24-25 trail the Hornets by 1 1/2 games in the Eastern Conference standings.
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