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.