Gordon Hayward’s first game with the Boston Celtics didn’t go well after the All-Star shooting guard suffered a gruesome ankle injury five minutes into their season-opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

The injury happened at the 6:48 mark of the first quarter when Hayward made a backdoor cut to catch a lob pass from Kyrie Irving. Hayward was met in mid-air by LeBron James, causing him to lose his balance as his left leg landed awkwardly on the floor.

TNT play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan initially thought it was a broken leg, but a close-up look on a grimacing Hayward showed a dislocated ankle.

Hayward was immediately stretchered off the floor, leaving the players, coaches, and fans in silence after witnessing a brutal injury that unfolded in the very first game of 2017-18 NBA season.

Extent of the damage

Although the official diagnosis of the injury won’t be revealed until Hayward undergoes several tests, Celtics officials feared the injury will require a season-ending injury. Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Saadiq El-Amin believes Hayward suffered a bad case of ankle fracture dislocation, which usually requires six to nine months of intense rehabilitation.

Dr. El-Amin added that this kind of injury is complicated since the surgeon has to make sure the fracture and ankle joint gets stabilized to prevent long-term damage.

What’s next for the Celtics?

Hayward was expected to be one of the cornerstones – alongside Irving and Al Horford - for the Celtics after signing a four-year, $128 million deal in the offseason.

With this development, the Celtics find themselves in a tough spot with still 81 games left on their regular-season schedule.

Boston entered the season with the goal of ending the Cavaliers’ three-year stranglehold in the Eastern Conference. Hayward’s injury made it tougher to achieve now, but the Celtics are still a playoff-caliber team even without the shooting guard.

According to Marc J. Spears of the Undefeated, the Celtics will have an option to add another player through free agency or trade by applying for the Disabled Player Exception.

The Celtics would be eligible to apply for the Disabled Player Exception based on the Gordon Hayward injury. The exception would be worth $8.4 million and Boston would have up until March 10 to use it. The Celtics, with an open roster spot, can sign, claim, or trade for a player that has one-year left on his contract,” Spears stated.

At this point of the season, there aren’t any players in the free agency pool who can make the same impact as Gordon Hayward. Veterans like Monta Ellis, Deron Williams, and Derrick Williams are certainly options in the free agent market, though it won’t be surprising if Danny Ainge pulls off a trade in the coming weeks.