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Gordon Hayward Says He'll Leave Celtics, NBA Bubble In Orlando For Birth Of 4th Child

BOSTON (CBS) -- Gordon Hayward will head down to Orlando with his Celtics teammates next week. But the Boston forward may not be in Disney World for the entirety of the NBA's bubble season -- and for good reason.

Hayward is going to give Boston all he has when play resumes at the end of the month, and he's hoping for a lengthy postseason run by the Celtics. But if the Celtics are still playing come September, he's going to have to leave the team to welcome a new member to his family.

In a Zoom call with Boston reporters on Friday, Hayward said he plans to leave the team to be at the birth of his fourth child.

"That's a pretty easy decision for me on that," said Hayward. "I've been there for the birth of every one of my children. I think there are more important things in life. We'll cross that bridge when we get there."

Robyn Hayward is due in September, which means Hayward could miss the Eastern Conference Finals (which begin Sept. 15) or NBA Finals (which tip off Sept. 30). She is going to give birth in Indianapolis where the Hayward's have family, so Gordon can head back to Orlando shortly after the baby -- his first son -- arrives.

But it's not that simple in this rather complicated world these days. Hayward will have to quarantine in Orlando before he rejoins his teammates, so he could be out of the Boston lineup at an important time of the season. But he will likely receive permission to leave Orlando from the league, which means he would only have to quarantine for as few as four days.

While Hayward is certainly eager to get back on the floor with the Celtics, who currently sit as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, it's going to be a difficult day when he has to leave his pregnant wife and three daughters for up to two months during a pandemic. But the Celtics have as good a shot as anyone to compete for a title, and his desire to help the team get there is driving his decision to say goodbye to his family -- as hard as that may be.

"This is a unique experience that is about to happen. Although we're on the road a lot during the year, you do get time to come home. We spend maybe a max of 10 days on the road. Being on the road a lot longer is going to be tough, no doubt about it," he said. "Leaving the girlies is going to be a hard day for me. They're old enough now that they do understand what's going on and they know I'm going to be gone for awhile.

"The opportunity to compete for a championship is something that a lot of us NBA players want to do," he continued. "We want to go down there and try to finish something we've worked for all year. There is a lot to think about.

"My wife has been unbelievable through this whole thing," he added. "Seriously, she is taking care of the girls, taking care of me because I've been home more and that's something she does well. All while being pregnant."

Hayward was enjoying his best season with the Celtics before the NBA put a halt to the 2019-20 campaign in March, averaging 17.3 points off 50 percent shooting from the floor to go with 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. He's expected some rust from everyone once the NBA season tips off again, especially on the offensive end of the floor. But he's confident that the Celtics have the depth -- and defensive fortitude -- to overcome any struggles on offense.

"Without a doubt, the offense might be a little further behind. We haven't played together or been with each other, and that takes a season to kind of get your groove going to where at the end of the year you know the plays that work well and where you're going to get your shots," he said. "You have this zone that you get into. "I'm confident we'll get into that, but it takes a little longer than the defensive side. I think our versatility and depth should help us a lot on that end.

"If our offense is maybe not as crisp at first, we'll give ourselves a chance by being really tough defensively," said Hayward.

The Celtics report to Orlando on July 8, and after a few days of quarantine, will begin training camp. Boston's first game is set for July 31 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

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