No team, GM, coach, or fanbase can sit back and say they prefer an injury-prone, shoot-first point guard who is impossible to understand over two of the three best players in the National Basketball Association, one of the greatest shooters of all-time with a legit defensive game, and a player that can dominate on both ends of the court. When that game tips off, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward plans to be on the court for it.
Hayward, who donned his green No. 20 uniform in front of reporters at the Auerbach Center, said the next month will be pivotal before the season begins.
With training camp set to begin in under two weeks - and the team's first preseason game scheduled for September 28 - Hayward said he's not completely 100 percent basketball-wise, though he's getting close. I'm not 100 percent as far as basketball-wise, just because I haven't played in a year.
"The last step for me, as far as from a physical standpoint, is the little explosion, that little last juice, bounce that you get".
Other players did their best to keep up his spirits: One time, Aron Baynes brought back some Krispy Kreme doughnuts from a road trip and drove them over to Hayward's house.
The Knicks have not been good recently, but simply because of the team's prestige and the fact that they play in New York City in the World's Most Famous Arena - Madison Square Garden - they're always going to be a factor when big-name free agents become available.
"Watching the guys past year just gave me a lot of confidence in our team and what I think we have the ability to do. When you take a long break like that, you've got to kind of find it again, so that's what I'm using this time for". Aside from losing Hayward for essentially the entire 2017-18 season, star guard Kyrie Irving missed the final 15 games of the 2017-18 season and the entire playoffs to fix his left knee. "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". "These past few weeks and the next probably month or so will be good to get back into the game".
Despite the loss of their starting backcourt, the Celtics still advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, falling to the Cavaliers in seven games.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.