Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Saturday that he’s uncertain if offseason addition Tristan Thompson will be ready for the start of the regular season while the big man rehabs from a hamstring strain.
"He’s not been in any part of practice yet. He’s done our pre-practice … very light, simulated reads work on both ends. So that’s it,” said Stevens. “He hasn’t played in a long time. He didn’t play in the bubble, so there will be a ramp-up period for him whenever he is able to go live in practice, and I’m assuming it won’t be just one of those situations where you’re available one day and you get a good practice in and you can play.
"I think it’ll be a little more than that. I don’t know what that means with regard to December 23rd. Every day that passes I’d say that becomes more unlikely."
Thompson told NBC Sports Boston last week that he’s treading cautiously with the injury to ensure no setbacks.
"It’s getting better. Of course, I hate doing rehab, I’d rather be out there bumping and grinding with the fellas,” said Thompson. "But I’m watching from the sideline. I want to get back as soon as I can. Make sure I don’t skip any steps they have for me, we don’t want nothing to linger.
"The way I look at it is that I plan on playing in the later months. When it’s summertime and everyone’s sipping on Mai Tais, I want to playing in that gym. I want to get this right so we don’t have any more setbacks or hiccups during the season.”
In other injury news, Celtics rookie Payton Pritchard dislocated a finger on his left hand during practice Saturday. Stevens said the medical staff was able to pop it back into place and noted he is hopeful that Pritchard, the 26th pick in November’s draft, will be back at practice, “sooner rather than later.”
The Celtics are already operating shorthanded at the guard position with Kemba Walker sidelined while rehabbing a balky left knee. Stevens said that Walker has only engaged in individual shooting drills at practice during camp and he didn’t have a timeline for when he’d take the next step.
“I really haven’t even asked,” said Stevens. "Like you, I’m going to learn more in early January about real timeline timelines. I’m guessing like everything else, he’ll probably progress to the next stage fairly quickly. Next stage might be like being involved in a four-person group work where you’re doing some simulated defensive drills or simulated offensive reads, oftentimes not going full speed.”
If Pritchard, Thompson, Walker, and Romeo Langford are all sidelined, the Celtics are operating with just 13 available bodies, two of which are their 2-way players in Tacko Fall and Tremont Waters. Boston visits the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night for its exhibition opener. The Celtics host the Nets two nights later in their second and final preseason game.
Celtics forward Jaylen Brown said he’s eager to get the games going.
"I think we’re ready to come out and throw a couple of punches, get things started,” said Brown. "We have a lot of young guys excited to play. Guys like me, who are excited to get back out there, too. We should be good. I think we should be ready to roll.
“Obviously, we have a new team, filling out some chemistry, building some new chemistry, starting out with Jeff [Teague] and Tristan when he comes back. But I think we should be ready to roll.”