Celtics’ Hayward expects to be ready for season-opener

Celtics forward Gordon Hayward says he intends to be ready for the season-opening game.

After suffering a gruesome ankle injury in the first game of last season, Boston Celtics small forward Gordon Hayward told reporters he expects to be ready for the first game of this one.

The Celtics finished with the best record in the East last season minus Hayward, as well as minus star point guard Kyrie Irving in the second half of the season.

The return of those two, and LeBron James’ departure from the Cleveland Cavaliers, make the Celtics the East’s odds-on favorites to reach the Finals.

Both Hayward and Irving have reportedly been working out and looking good.

“With each step I get some joy,” Hayward told Boston reporters. “Now we’re at the final step.”

Hayward said “he’s more or less 100 percent, with explosion and cutting the remaining challenges,” according to Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald.

Hayward was an All-Star in 2016-17 with the Utah Jazz. He has two years and nearly $64 million left on his contract, with a player option for just more than $34 million in 2020.

The Celtics open the season Oct. 16 at home vs. the Philadelphia 76ers.