Boston Celtics fans have held onto hope that Gordon Hayward could return before the end of the year, but those hopes continue to take hits -- Brad Stevens has repeatedly said he doesn't expect Hayward to return -- and on Thursday, Yahoo! Sports' Chris Mannix delivered another sucker punch.

According to Mannix, Hayward's ankle was "still swollen and still purpleish" at the All-Star break -- an indicator he probably won't return soon. As Mannix noted in his column, expecting Hayward to play NBA minutes in that condition sounds unreasonable at best.

The All-Star break feels like a halfway point in the season, but it's actually considerably closer to the end of the year. The Celtics, who are currently 44-19, only have 19 games remaining this season, and it's difficult to see how an ankle as badly injured as Hayward's could go from "purpleish and swollen" in the middle of February to fully rehabbed and ready for NBA action over the next 19 games.