An already battered Celtics team got what proved to be a fatal blow early in May, just ahead of the start of the team’s playoff run: Star wing Jaylen Brown would be out for the remainder of the season with a torn ligament in his wrist.
That was on May 10, with five games remaining in the regular season. A little more than three weeks later, the Celtics were eliminated from the first round of the playoffs in five games, at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets.
But during the offseason, the question of Brown’s eventual return has lingered over the organization. This week, in an interview with The Undefeated, Brown said he should be ready for Celtics training camp next week.
“Yeah, that’s the goal,” Brown said. “My wrist has been healing. Some days it’s better than others. I got to continue to push and work, but I’m excited to be there for camp. And I’m excited to be there with my teammates, and start to build, and start this journey, man. I missed a lot of time, so I’m looking at the season like I’m ready. I want to play. I’m ready.”
Brown Had a Career Year in 2020-21
The Celtics need a fully healthy Brown to have any chance at a productive season in 2021-22. There was some concern that he might not start the season healthy. Brown tore the scapholunate ligament in his left wrist, and teammate Romeo Langford had a similar injury, requiring six months to return. But initially, the team’s timeline was that Brown would miss only three months, and he appears to be on track for that.
Brown is coming off a career year in which he earned his first All-Star berth and averaged 24.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists. He finished the season with impressive 48.4%/39.7%/76.4% shooting percentages.
The injury kept Brown from participating with Team USA in the Olympics this summer, but that might have been a good thing. Brown said that after last year’s run to the East finals in the NBA’s Orlando bubble, the December 22 start to this season was a lot to handle, physically.
“We started back so quickly [last season]. I didn’t really have an [offseason],” Brown said. “I was dreading coming into training camp, like, ‘Oh, man.’ I was already hurting. I had a good season, but my body barely kept up. So, this year I think I’ll be a lot better in that category.”
Jaylen Brown Returning to a Changed Celtics Team
Brown will be coming back to a completely different team and organization. Head honcho Danny Ainge is gone, replaced by coach Brad Stevens, who is the only coach Brown has known since he entered the NBA in 2016 (Stevens got the Celtics coaching gig in 2013). The Celtics also added new players like Al Horford, Josh Richardson and Dennis Schroder.
In Stevens’ place is former player and longtime assistant coach Ime Udoka, who coached Brown in USA Basketball’s trip to the World Cup in 2019. Brown said that he appreciated the Celtics hiring a Black head coach, especially a former player.
“Whether it was because they were just trying to shut us up, or because they actually believed it was the right thing to do, it don’t matter to me. That representation is important,” Brown said. “And that’s giving people access and resources that they need and deserve to have, especially former players. They deserve to have a seat at the table too, especially in coaching positions, as well as in-office positions, ownership positions.”