BOSTON — Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge said Thursday that injured star Gordon Hayward is “right on schedule” with his rehab and could shed his walking boot soon.

Hayward has said he doesn’t anticipate playing again this season. The Celtics haven’t completely ruled out a return this season, but have stressed nobody should expect one. The team received a disabled player exception, which means an NBA-appointed doctor believes Hayward will “substantially more likely than not” miss the rest of the regular season and the entire playoffs.

But Thursday, Ainge said Hayward is progressing.

“He can take the boot off for short periods of time,” Ainge said. “But, yeah, he’s doing really well. His therapy is going great. He’s right on schedule. He’s doing sometimes two workouts a day and trying to get stronger. And the next phases are just getting out of the boot completely, but I still think that he’s a couple weeks away from being permanently out of the boot.”

For now, Hayward still needs to wear the walking boot most of the day. Ainge said the star has not explicitly stated he hopes to return this season, but of course Hayward hopes to make his way back to the court as quickly as he can.

“He hasn’t expressed that,” Ainge said. “But just knowing professional athletes, I know that down inside he wants to be back faster than anybody has ever been back from this kind of injury. He’s got a competitive streak to him. And he’s asking lots of questions, he’s got good people around him. He’s diligent in his rehab. I mean, I know what’s going on in his mind, but I don’t think he’ll say anything about how fast he wants to get back.”

76ERS-NETS TRADE: Philadelphia 76ers traded beleaguered center Jahlil Okafor to Brooklyn.

Okafor, the No. 3 pick in the 2015 draft, was dropped from the rotation this season and has played only two games. The Sixers also sent guard Nik Stauskas and a 2019 second-round pick to the Nets for forward Trevor Booker.

Okafor asked for a contract buyout once the Sixers declined to pick up his option. The Sixers declined to release Okafor for nothing and continued to shop the 6-foot-11 center out of Duke and finally found a taker in the Nets.

Stauskas had played in only six games for the 76ers. Booker averaged 10.1 points for the Nets.


LAKERS 107, 76ERS 104: Brandon Ingram scored 21 points, including the winning 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds remaining, to lead Los Angeles at Philadelphia.

Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson added 16 points apiece for the Lakers, who snapped a five-game losing streak.

Joel Embiid scored 33 points and Ben Simmons had a triple-double with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists for Philadelphia.