Hayward played only five minutes during his first run with Boston last season before suffering a gruesome ankle injury that effectively ended his season. Irving, meanwhile, played in 60 games during his first season with the Celtics. But his 2017-18 campaign was also cut short due to a nagging knee injury that required surgery.
"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 told ESPN. "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 [Sept. 26]."
Hayward and Irving have spent much of the offseason rehabbing from repair surgeries, but are expected to arrive in Boston within the week to begin preparation for training camp. The goal for the Celtics, Ainge says, is to gradually ramp up their workload into a 5-on-5 setting. But both Irving and Hayward are now dunking off both legs and playing in 1-on-1 settings, indications that a return to a competitive 5-on-5 practice could be imminent.
Physically, they look great," Ainge said. "I think they're very excited about the upcoming year."