Having seen both of their 2017-18 seasons ended prematurely by injury, Celtics stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are fully recovered and ready for the start of training camp on Sept. 26.
“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,” said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, as reported by ESPN. “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.”
Ainge said the Celtics will nonetheless be cautious with Irving and Hayward after they missed 22 and 81 games, respectively. Irving was sidelined by left knee issues that required multiple surgeries, while Hayward suffered a gruesome ankle injury just five minutes into his Celtics debut after defecting from the Jazz via free agency last summer.
Despite the loss of their starting backcourt, the Celtics still advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, falling to the Cavaliers in seven games. But with LeBron James having left Cleveland for the Lakers, and their All-Star guards back to full strength, expectations are soaring in Boston.
“I’m really excited about about the upcoming season with (Irving and Hayward back),” Ainge said. “Obviously there’s a transition from rehabbing to playing 1-on-1 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. I think there will be a little bit of an adjustment once that last phase is made.
“But, physically, they look great and I think they’re very excited about the upcoming year.”