Celtics Notes: Hayward, Smart, Walker, Ainge

Gordon Hayward is working harder than ever to get back to playing like an All-Star, Celtics assistant coach Scott Morrison tells Jay King of The Athletic. Morrison is among the staff members working this summer with Hayward, who has spent most of the offseason in Boston rather than his home in San Diego.

After signing with the Celtics as a free agent in 2017, Hayward saw his first season wiped out by a broken ankle on opening night. His 2018/19 season was filled with frustration as he tried to overcome the lingering effects of that injury. Now he’s determined to return to the top of his game.

“I think this year he’s just eager to get back out there and play well and play to where he thinks he’s capable,” Morrison said. “So he was very motivated to put the extra time in, put the extra intensity into his workouts. For me as a coach, that was kind of music to my ears.”

One area of emphasis for Hayward was to improve his ball-handling, even before the team knew that Kyrie Irving was signing elsewhere. Although Kemba Walker was added to take over lead guard duties, back-up Terry Rozier also departed, meaning that Hayward may sometimes run the offense with the second team.

There’s more today from Boston:

  • Marcus Smart has been ruled out of Team USA’s final two World Cup games, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Smart had X-rays this week that came back negative on an injured left knuckle, but pain in his hand as well as the quad/calf area contributed to the decision. The Americans are out of medal contention after losing to France earlier today.
  • The Celtics who are playing alongside Walker in China rave about his humility and willingness to fit in, relays Joe Vardon of The Athletic. That draws an obvious comparison to Irving, who wasn’t known for either of those traits during his two years in Boston. “I’m saying this about Kemba,” Jaylen Brown insisted. “I’m not saying this about everybody else. … I’m looking forward to this year. I’m not thinking about last year. Last year was what it was. Spend your time in the past, you’re blinded by it and you’re missing your future. I’m not painting that picture at all.”
  • A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston examines whether president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will be more active on the trade market now that he’s not entering a season with a team that’s among the favorites to win the title.
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17 thoughts on “Celtics Notes: Hayward, Smart, Walker, Ainge

  1. fmfish12

    I’d still say they have a chance at a title, or at least be in the thick of it in the East.

  2. Z-A

    Brown gets dealt this year right? I mean it’s inevitable, no? This is the team I thought would take Bol Bol and try to develop that stretch-5. They have 5 good players. Kemba/Gordon are the only All-Star caliber players on the squad. I think the Pacer’s are the best comp in the East…. Dip, Turner, Sabonis, Brogdon, Bojan. I think those 2 duel for the 3rd or 4th slot. With Brooklyn, Miami, Orlando and Detroit rounding out the East.

    No one else in the East can compare at this point to Philly, who have 4 Top-50 players and an MVP candidate or the Bucks with 3 Top-50 and an MVP.

  3. I like Hayward but either he has an amazing agent or the Celtics FO feels like they have some egg on their face after signing him to a max deal because I am sick and tired of hearing over and over again how hard Hayward is working out for the last 15 months only to see him still be tentative and not the same player on the court.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      Everyone thought that Utah was going to really miss him when he got his $128M deal with Boston, but he never fully recovered from that horrible injury he had almost two years ago. One has to wonder if the Nets will suffer the same fate with KD.

      • Rewane

        Cousins and IT didn’t get paid after the injury, and they did not come back the same. I think teams have knowledge to judge how healthy a player is. Hayward is injured after signing the contract, so that is different.
        With Thompson, Durant, and Porzingis getting max deals post injury, it pretty much guarantees that they are coming back to mostly their old selfs.

      • Nope but that doesn’t mean we have to keep patting him on the back for working hard!
        He’s has a fully guaranteed contract for over $30M a year and he knows that he hasn’t lived up to the huge contract, so what else is he supposed to do but hang out at the practice facility during the off-season??

  4. Tazza

    I feel like Hayward with his current contract is really better off being traded cause your not going to get the production from him that your paying for. I still like the idea of Langford and Hayward for Gordan and Bamba.
    The Celtics really seem in a bit of a predicament. They were a team that was competing and rebuilding with it young players and picks now they have Walker who is older at Point, they have Smart and Brown at SG (Brown also needs a new deal), they have Tatum at SF and a really overpaid Hayward trying to come back from injury. To me that sounds not very young and it sounds expensive

      • Tazza

        Throw in 2 first. That’s not happening. Langford for Bamba is a straight swap. Bamba was drafted higher but didn’t have a good first year, and the Magic need a back up SG. Then Hayward for Gordan isn’t that far off. Obviously Hayward is way more overpaid but he balances the Magic team with Issacs at PF, just as Gordan can move to Boston and play his favoured PF position. Maybe you throw in 1 first because of the salary difference and slight talent difference but wouldn’t say 2. Maybe they give up Jaylen Brown instead of Langford and receive back a first… Brown does need a new deal maybe Boston thinks Smart is the long term SG.

    • Toyin

      Dude, you know if Gordon gets traded then the next team will also expect the production they are paying for. Switching teams doesn’t mean they expect less. In fact, a team like Orlando would most likely expect more production than Celtics anticipated they were getting when first signing Gordon.

      • Tazza

        What are you on about?
        Gordon’s production about 16 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3 assists would be good for the Celtics coming from power forward.
        Hayward who had a down year coming back from injury averaged about 12 points, 4 rebounds and 3.5 assists in only 25 minutes.
        Apparently Hayward has been working really hard this offseason and is expected to really improve (I doubt back to as good as he was). If he improves abit he could have similar production as Gordon and by trading these two it gives the teams they are moving to better fits. At this stage Boston has 2 SFs in Tatum and Hayward and Orlando have Gordon and Issacs who are both PFs.

        Aaron is younger and has a better deal that’s why you may give up a first. But I think Aaron (23) suits playing in a younger team as a bit more of a role player. Around him he would have a better culture and team mates like Smart 25, Brown 22 and Tatum 21.
        Hayward probably suits the Magic more too. He would be the second/third scoring option in his favoured position. The team mates around him like Aminu 28, Augustine 31, Fournier 26, Ross 28 and Vuce 28 are all close to his age 29. He would probably have the biggest personality on the team and be given more of a leadership role.

  5. dlevin11

    I would hold off on making any trades until mid season. Celtics have a lot of changes and a ton of new players. If possible I would
    trade Langford and Hayward to Indiana for Myles Turner.

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