In the 2017 NBA offseason, Boston Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge shocked the entire league when they made major changes on their roster. The Celtics succeeded to sign Gordon Hayward in free agency and acquired Kyrie Irving in a blockbuster deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unfortunately, Hayward and Irving didn’t finish their first season with the Celtics as both of them suffered an injury.
Despite the absence of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics managed to finish as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, reaching the conference finals, and forced a Game 7 against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. The nearing return of both superstars makes the Celtics the top favorite to become the new ruler of the LeBron-less Eastern Conference in the 2018-19 NBA season.
In a recent interview with ESPN, Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge gave a major update on Hayward and Irving’s health status. Ainge boasted that if the training camp will start today, Irving and Hayward can already go at “full speed.” There is still almost a month before the training camp begins, and as of now, Ainge said that both superstars are already pacing themselves.
Ainge also revealed that both Irving and Hayward will already be participating in 5-on-5 next week. One of their main goals in the upcoming training camp is to build a good chemistry between the two returning superstars and their young players like Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier, and Jaylen Brown.
“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. 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.”
The return of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving will undeniably make the Celtics a more dangerous team next season. However, their young core will be needing to make a huge sacrifice since Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens is set to bring Hayward and Irving back to the starting lineup. Though Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are expected to be starters, Stevens could give them a reduced role on the offensive end of the floor.
Meanwhile, Terry Rozier will be returning to his usual role as the Celtics’ backup point guard. Though nothing is finalized regarding the Celtics’ rotation, several players like Rozier and Tatum have already expressed their willingness to make adjustments to help the Celtics accomplish their main goal next season.