Gordon Hayward. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- It was a big day for the Celtics yesterday. They finally re-signed Marcus Smart. Four years, 52 million dollars.
Recovering star Gordon Hayward spoke with NBC Sports Boston at an eSports event in Cambridge. Hayward called Smart a winner and said he's excited Boston's returning mostly the same roster from last year, but knows there are no guarantees his group will emerge from the East, especially with Kawhi Leonard in Toronto now.
"He's gonna make them a better team," Hayward said. "I think they lose a guy in DeMar who is extremely talented and a problem offensively, and they get another guy in Kawhi who's really talented too. They're gonna be a little bit different. There's other teams too in the East that I think will take steps, and with more experience, some of the younger teams I think will be a lot better, so it's still going to be a competitive East."
That said, Hayward said he still likes the C's chances and believes they have everything they need to make a run at a championship.
The most immediate goal for him, though, is to play five-on-five next month. Hayward said he's just about full-speed and he's excited to test his ankle after a pair of surgeries since his Opening Night injury last year. The forward told Boston-dot-com he dunked a basketball for the first time off his left foot last week, without pain.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) reports