Ainge shares encouraging Evan Fournier, Jaylen Brown updates

April 22, 2021

Lengthy injury reports have been a constant theme for the 2020-21 Celtics. But Danny Ainge is still holding out hope that Boston will return to full strength soon.

The Celtics' president of basketball operations shared updates Thursday on a number of sidelined C's players, including newcomer Evan Fournier, who hasn't played since April 4 while in health and safety protocols.

"Evan is doing well," Ainge said Thursday on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich" radio show. "He was in the facility working out yesterday, so hopefully he'll be in (the facility) again today and get a lot of work in, and hopefully play maybe this weekend."

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Fournier has made it through COVID protocols, according to Ainge, so it's now a matter of "how he responds" while ramping up his conditioning. If all goes well, Ainge sounds optimistic Fournier could return Sunday against the Charlotte Hornets.

The Celtics also are expected to be without Jaylen Brown on Thursday against the Phoenix Suns, as the All-Star is dealing with a shoulder injury that appeared to hinder him Monday against the Chicago Bulls.

Ainge doesn't foresee Brown's shoulder being a serious issue, however.

"It looked like it was better yesterday, but it was just sore," Ainge said. "I could see during the broadcast the other night that his shoulder was bothering him, and he made a move and he’s not sure if it’s just if he got hit or just stretched it out. But he’ll be all right in the next few days in my opinion."

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Ainge added that big man Robert Williams is "not too far away" from returning from a knee injury that's kept him out of the last three games.

The Celtics have battled injuries and COVID-related absences all season yet still are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race at 31-27. They could make moves in that race if they finally get healthy -- but that's a big "if."

UPDATE (11:55 a.m. ET): Brown is still listed as doubtful to play Thursday night against Phoenix, while Fournier and Williams remain out as well.

Kemba Walker is set to return after missing Monday's game, however.