The Celtics have enjoyed four straight winning seasons, with the trend likely continuing this season despite losing several key pieces. Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Terry Rozier, and Marcus Morris all bolted for greener pastures. These may seem like a devastating losses, but opportunities are now present for young guns Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to step up and take their games to the next level. Gordon Hayward is another year removed from his gruesome injury and should be a bounce back candidate. Oh, and the additions of Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter don’t hurt either. The Celts did some addition by subtraction, and are primed to challenge for the Eastern Conference title yet again.
Gordon Hayward has enjoyed a “great summer,” largely due to the fact that he’s been able to train with “no restrictions.”
Hayward, 29, was a shell of his former self last season as he recovered from left ankle surgery.
The former All-Star says his offseason work has given him a much-needed confidence boost.
“It was just important for me to stay here and work with the staff,” he said at a Home Court Makeover Program event in Burlington. “They know exactly where I was at, at the end of the season and I wanted to build off of that.
“Back to no restrictions. So that’s felt really nice. Being able to train exactly how I’m used to training, not only having to worry about only doing stuff for 10 minutes or only doing a certain amount of reps. Not having to worry about surgery or anything, too. So it’s been really good from that standpoint.”
Hayward chose to stay in Boston rather than train somewhere else like his offseason home in San Diego.
“(I) got a chance to enjoy the beautiful facility we have and really utilize all of it and work with the staff and it’s been a great summer,” Hayward said. “It was just important for me to stay here and work with the staff. They kind of knew exactly where I was at after the season and I wanted to build off of that and also work with the coaches and get ready for the upcoming year.”
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Marcus Smart joined ESPN’s “The Jump” Monday afternoon and spoke about what it was like going through the ups and downs with Irving and Celtics in general last season.
“Let me make this be clear: We, not just me, the world, even Kyrie knows, he didn’t play up to the standard that he wanted to, but there’s four other guys out there with him, there’s a coach out there, we’re all supposed to be one team,” Smart said.
“So you can’t put the blame on just one guy, because there’s things that everybody could have done better to not just help Kyrie, but help each other. “
“And when you’re going in, especially when you’re trying to build that camaraderie, when you start singling guys out, it makes it really hard. And we’ve seen it inside the locker room and things like that, with guys calling guys out and it just wasn’t working for us. So for me, I just wanted to let people know that yes, we understand that Kyrie wasn’t up to Kyrie’s standard, but there’s four other guys, there’s a whole roster full of coaches, everybody participated.”
Despite backing up his fellow guard, Smart was pretty open about the team’s struggles, calling them “dysfunctional.” “I mean let’s call a spade a spade, right? It’s true. We were dysfunctional,” he said. Dysfunctional? Yes.
The prevailing belief around the NBA is that Kyrie Irving no longer wants anything to do with the Celtics, but president of basketball operations Danny Ainge insists the All-Star point guard has not “ghosted” them prior to free agency.
Ainge says Irving has been in communication with the front-office throughout the offseason.
Speaking on NBC Sports Boston Thursday night following the NBA draft, Danny Ainge said he has no issues at all with Irving, and he and the organization have remained in contact.
“Kyrie’s been good. He’s returned calls. He’s returned messages. He’s been excellent,” Ainge said.
“… Kyrie has always been respectful with me. Our 1-on-1 relationship has been good. He’s been open and honest with me from Day 1. I have no issues at all with Kyrie.”
Terry Rozier will be a restricted free agent this summer, and believes his time in Boston may be up.
Rozier, 25, says he “might have to go” if the Celtics come back next season with the same roster.
Scary Terry admits he struggled to fit in with Kyrie Irving—after putting up 16.5 points, 5.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game in the playoffs last season with the All-Star point guard teammate sidelined by injury—and adds that head coach Brad Stevens had a tough time managing such a talent-laden squad.
“No, I might have to go. I might have to go. I put up with a lot this year so I said what I said after this season. I think we all know I’m not trying to step into that again,” he said.
He was asked Tuesday to expand on his comments to Yahoo Sports after the Celtics were eliminated from the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks that he “sacrificed the most out of anybody” on the team this season.
“I sacrificed obviously my talent the most,” he said. “I think me being out there and giving my full style of play, how Terry Rozier play. I feel like I couldn’t be that person this year.”
He acknowledged that coach Brad Stevens had a tough job this season with this Celtics squad.
“I feel like along with the coaches treating Gordon [Hayward] and Kyrie, I wouldn’t say different than everybody else, but I just feel like they treated them like they was on that level where there were no adjustments that could be made because they are who they are,” he said. “We never figured it out. We never figured it out after that.”
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Terry Rozier says he “sacrificed the most out of anybody” during Boston’s disappointing season.
Rozier, 25, considers himself a “top point guard in this league” and saw his role diminish after emerging in last summer’s playoff run.
Per Yahoo Sports:
“Everybody was running around with their heads cut off, like chickens,” backup point guard Terry Rozier III told Yahoo Sports. “Coach was in a tough position, one of the toughest positions, dealing with all these guys with attitudes, all that sh–. Guys that’s All-Stars, guys getting paid a lot of money, guys trying to get paid. It’s tough.”
Rozier said he saw it on the first day of training camp, so many talented players who could make a case for bigger roles.
“I feel like I sacrificed the most, but I’d do it any day for this team,” Rozier told Yahoo Sports. “A lot of things weren’t fair to me, but it’s not about me. That’s why I don’t bitch and complain.”
It’s hard to ignore the self-induced noise when the back of your jersey might as well say “future trade asset” and the front office does very little to quell the speculation.
“I don’t give a f— what nobody say, I sacrificed the most out of anybody. I’m a top point guard in this league. I feel like it’s a fresh start, whether I’m here or whether I’m gone,” said Rozier, a star last postseason in Irving’s absence who’s about to hit restricted free agency in July.
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