BOSTON -- For most of Kyrie Irving’s joint press conference with Gordon Hayward, the name LeBron James seemed as though it would not be uttered.
Irving, who asked for a trade in part to get from under James’s shadow, was well aware of the rumors about he and LeBron not being on the best of terms even before his trade demand.
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Those rumors won’t die anytime soon, but on Friday Irving did speak to their relationship and what it has meant to him both as a person and a player.
While they have been teammates for the past three years, Irving indicated the two had a prior friendship. That certainly helped with the transition.
“I would be sitting up here telling you guys a lie if I didn’t tell you how much I learned from that guy,” Irving said. “The perfection of the craft comes in a variety of forms, and you watch and you watch and you ask a lot of the great players, what does it take to be great?
Irving added: “I’ve had the unique opportunity to play with one of the greats. It was awesome. At times, it was all over just like it is in any other team. And when you look back, you’re eternally grateful for the moments that you had and you shared. You’re able to be at peace with that journey and start anew.”
Based on Irving’s comments, it seems that more than anything else, an opportunity to continue his growth as a player, was the driving force behind his decision to ask for a trade despite being on a team that had made three straight trips to the NBA Finals and was once again an early favorite to make it four in a row.
“This was a very, very challenging decision at first,” Irving said. “But after a while, you understand and you have that confidence in yourself and understand the magnitude of what you can accomplish and potentially do. Now that I’m sitting here, it just echoes in me of being appreciative of not only the Cleveland fans, all of Ohio, as well as ‘Bron and that special team we had in Cleveland. Three finals in a row. All the shared memories . . . the brotherhood exists even without all this and it will continue. That’s exactly where it is.”
BOSTON – The days of playing short-handed continue for the Boston Celtics who will be without at least one all-star when they host the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.
The Celtics announced on Tuesday that Al Horford (rest) will not play. A knee collision with Detroit’s Anthony Tolliver on Sunday made Horford a game-time decision prior to Boston’s 108-85 loss at Chicago on Monday. Horford played but like most of his teammates, didn’t play as well as he would have liked before finishing with 15 points, four rebounds and five assists which included him missing all four of his 3-point attempts.
Kyrie Irving is probable with a quad injury that kept him out of the Bulls loss.
Marcus Morris (left knee) will miss his third straight game (14th this season) and remains out indefinitely. Also, Gordon Hayward (left ankle fracture) remains out although he may get some good news tomorrow.
BOSTON -- The timetable for Gordon Hayward’s return to the court hasn’t changed as far as the Celtics are concerned.
But try telling that to Hayward, who may be out of his walking boot for good very soon -- like tomorrow soon.
C's coach Brad Stevens gave an update on Hayward’s status in an interview with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski for Krzyzewski’s SiriusXM show, “Basketball & Beyond with Coach K,” which will air Thursday at 6 p.m. ET (SiriusXM channel 84).
“He’s going to the doctor [Wednesday] to potentially get out of his walking boot for good, which he’s jacked about,” Stevens said.
Stevens and Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, have reiterated how aggressive Hayward has been in attacking his rehab since suffering a dislocated left ankle injury in the season opener at Cleveland on October 17.
“He is literally in the weight room as we speak,” Stevens said. “Does all the training table [work], just like our guys. Has his own shooting time even when he was in a boot, sitting in a chair. He had his own shooting time and had his own lifting time, just like all our players do before practice.”
From the very outset, Stevens and the Celtics have made keeping Hayward as involved as possible a priority.
But Stevens is quick to caution that while Hayward is making good progress, the Celtics are still proceeding forward as though they will not have him back until next season.
“His status is, the way that we’ve looked at it the whole time is, we don’t expect him back this year,” Stevens said. “But he shoots for all of his goals, week to week, day to day, to try to expedite it as much as he can. He obviously wants to be back, like any athlete, as soon as he can.”
Hayward signed a four-year, $127.8 million contract with the Celtics this summer after spending his first seven NBA seasons with the Utah Jazz. Boston was awarded an $8.4 million disabled player exception for Hayward's injury, the largest DPE ever. Boston was awarded the exception in part because independent doctors determined that it’s “likely” that Hayward will not be able to return prior to June 15.
However, Boston will still keep the DPE until it expires (March 10, 2018) even if Hayward returns sooner than expected.