Boston Celtics

Celtics training camp doesn’t start until Sept. 26. But president of basketball ops Danny Ainge is already projecting to have two of his best players back after long injury absences.

Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward were both already on track to be ready for the start of the 2018-19 season for Boston, but Ainge offered a more encouraging update to ESPN’s Chris Forsberg in a new interview. Ainge is expecting both Irving and Hayward to be back to their normal selves once they hit the court for the inaugural training camp at Brighton’s Red Auerbach Center.

“I don’t want to hype it up too much, but I’m saying that if our training camp were starting today that they would be here today going full speed,” Ainge said. “It’s not like they need an extra month. I think that they know they have an extra month, so they are sort of pacing themselves. They’re playing as if to build up to that opening day of training camp.”

Irving continues to recover from a procedure to reverse an infection in his knee, which was caused by screws implanted from prior surgery on his patellar tendon. Hayward, meanwhile, remains on pace to fully recover in time for camp from his infamous ankle/leg injury, which he suffered on national TV just minutes into the Celtics’ season opener last October.

Rumors of Kyrie signing with the New York Knicks next summer continue to persist, but so do the rumors that the Celtics remain the favorites to retain him long-term. For now, it’s a positive development that the C’s are poised to start the 2018-19 season with arguably their two most important players back at 100 percent.

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