Less than three weeks from now, every NBA team will officially open their training camp. As the Boston Celtics gear up for that date, coach Brad Stevens is anticipating his entire team will be ready to go come Sept. 25.
Stevens was at the annual ABCD Hoop Dreams charity event at TD Garden last night and said he has been told that everyone — including injured stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward — will be available when training camp opens.
“I’ve been told that everybody is going to be ready to go,” Stevens said. “It’ll be a great opportunity to start afresh with a brand new team, though we do have a lot of guys back, and see if we can be the best version of ourselves.”
Irving and Hayward missed 22 and 81 games, respectively, with injuries last season. Irving missed the final 15 games of the 2017-18 season and the entire playoffs to repair his left knee. Hayward suffered a gruesome ankle injury just five minutes into his Celtics debut after defecting from the Utah Jazz via free agency last summer.
Stevens has kept tabs on Hayward’s progress and says he expects him to be fully cleared to practice soon.
“He looks good,” Stevens said of Hayward. “I saw him a couple of weeks ago in San Diego. I went out there and watched him work out. He looked really good. Then, two weeks or three weeks later, seeing him again … you can’t tell anything from my untrained eyes. He looks good. He’ll be cleared to go some 5-on-5 here very, very, very soon.”
Hayward has documented his injury rehab process and workouts via social media and said earlier this summer on his web site that he hoped to be participating in full-court, 5-on-5 workouts by late July.
Additionally, backup center Daniel Theis is on the mend as well. Theis missed the Celtics’ playoff run with a season-ending knee injury, robbing Boston of a key frontcourt contributor in the postseason.
“Daniel was in the gym this morning, he looks great.” Stevens said. “He has not been cleared for 5-on-5 play yet, but the anticipation is he will by the start of training camp on Sept. 25.”
Late last month, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told ESPN he expected the Celtics to be at full health when training camp opens.
Boston suffered minimal offseason roster losses among its key rotation players as only center Greg Monroe (who signed with Toronto) and guard Shane Larkin (who will be playing in Turkey) won’t be back for 2018-19. That roster continuity likely means changed roles for some players next season, something Stevens is hoping his players can take in stride.
“I think we’ve got a really good locker room,” Stevens said. “I don’t think it’s any secret to anybody that there’s only 240 minutes in a game. If we all struggle with that, more than just the human nature if you get taken out — that’s OK, that’s part of it — but if we all struggle with that, then we won’t be very good. If we don’t, then we’ll have a chance to be pretty good.”
Stevens said he hasn’t thought much about who will start vs. who will serve in a reserve role. Instead, he pointed to the willingness of last season’s roster to accept roles to foster success — which was evident throughout Boston’s playoff run. Despite the loss of their starting backcourt, the Celtics still advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, falling to the Cavaliers in seven games.
“Your rotation can change in a heartbeat,” Stevens said. “You can work all summer on it and then you’ve got to adjust in one day. The bottom line is we have an idea of who we’ll play together and who best fits together and what lineups we think we’ll try to use, but we’ll see how it shakes itself out.”