Celtics stars Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving have progressed from their injuries nicely this offseason and appear ready for practice.
“I don’t want to hype it up too much, but I’m saying that if our training camp were starting today that they would be here today going full speed,” Celtics president Danny Ainge said, via ESPN.com. “It’s not like they need an extra month. I think that they know they have an extra month, so they are sort of pacing themselves. They’re playing as if to build up to that opening day of training camp (Sept. 26).”
Both Irving and Hayward are expected to re-join practice next week, as they continue to progress ahead of next month’s training camp.
“They’ll both be here within the next week or so; by the time Labor Day is over, they will all be playing 5-on-5,” Ainge said of Irving and Hayward. “I think it’s just a matter of, if they’re not playing 5-on-5 now, then it’s only because they want it more of a controlled environment, I guess. They’re doing everything — dunking the basketball off both legs and playing one-on-one live and jumping and cutting and defending. I’m excited for them.”
Hayward suffered an ugly ankle injury toward the end of the first quarter in the first game of the season last year while knee surgery kept Irving out of the playoffs after he averaged 24.4 points in 60 games.
While the two stars were out of the lineup, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum emerged as potential stars. The Celtics, playing in a perceived weaker Eastern Conference, are the favorites to reach the NBA Finals.
“I’m really excited about the upcoming season with (Irving and Hayward),” Ainge said. “Obviously, there’s a transition from rehabbing to playing one-on-one to playing 3-on-3 to 5-on-5 and then playing NBA basketball, so I don’t want to build up expectations too high. But physically, they look great, and I think they’re very excited about the upcoming year.”