When Gordon Hayward reports to training camp next month, he will find a very different Celtics team than the one he signed with last summer, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. While Hayward sat out last season with a severe ankle fracture he suffered on opening night, some of Boston’s young players developed into stars, with Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier all raising their games on the way to the Eastern Conference finals.
That gives Hayward time to ease his way back into the lineup rather than trying to regain his All-Star form right away, Blakely notes. Hayward, who said last month that he was just about back to “full speed,” admits the mental aspects of overcoming a serious injury can be just as hard as the physical challenges.
“I’m going to be focused on training camp, getting through that first practice,” he said. “It’s been so long for me to even be out on the court. I’m very excited about where we can go next year.”
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- The Celtics‘ success last season has helped turn them into a booming business, relays Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. The team will have 27 nationally televised games for 2018/19, all its season ticket packages are already sold out and the newly opened Auerbach Center practice facility is seen as a future recruiting tool in free agency. “There’s a higher than ever demand for pretty much all things Celtics this offseason,” said team president Rich Gotham. “The television ratings reflected that during the regular season and during the playoffs.”
- The Nets‘ 15-man roster for the upcoming season is just about set, according to Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily, who projects the team’s depth chart at each position. Puccio expects D’Angelo Russell to establish himself as Brooklyn’s best player this year, with Allen Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jarrett Allen joining him in the starting lineup. New additions Kenneth Faried, Jared Dudley and Ed Davis should all see plenty of playing time off the bench.
- Even if the Knicks get off to another strong start, they face a schedule that gets much tougher after Christmas, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. ESPN will be hoping Kristaps Porzingis returns from his ACL injury in time for a holiday matchup with the Bucks, but that kicks off a stretch of 10 out of 12 games against playoff teams.