Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston noted Hayward told her he plans on suiting up for the Celtics when they take on the Charlotte Hornets in their first preseason game Friday. The Butler product suffered a broken fibula and dislocated ankle in the 2017-18 season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Hayward underwent surgery in May to remove the screws and plates that were implanted to help him recover.
According to Taylor C. Snow of the Celtics' official website, the "general consensus" among teammates is "amazement" at how fast he has recovered, and Hayward didn't sound like someone who is going to hesitate when he takes the floor this season.
"Once they tell me I can go and do whatever, I'm just going to go at it at full speed," he said. "I think that's what I have to do. I just have to jump right into it."
The Celtics reached the Eastern Conference Finals last season and pushed LeBron James and the Cavaliers to Game 7 even without a healthy Hayward and Kyrie Irving. They enter the new campaign with Hayward and Irving back to join a group that includes Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Al Horford and no longer have to deal with James in the East.
Hayward's return is a major reason for the optimism surrounding the franchise considering he averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in 2016-17 with the Utah Jazz while shooting 39.8 percent from three-point range.
He should have plenty of open looks playing alongside so many weapons, and he will have the first chance to prove he can still hit them after his injury on Friday.