Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving (L) and Gordon Hayward joined the Boston Celtics in 2017. In this picture, Irving #11 and Gordon Hayward #20 of the Boston Celtics look on during their introduction as the newest members of Boston Celtics at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, Sept. 1, 2017. Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Boston Celtics general manager and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has scoffed at talks suggesting the team were better off without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

The Celtics made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals where they fell in Game 7 to the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers, but they were not expected to make it that far as Irving was ruled out for the season after he underwent a knee surgery to remove screws from his patella.

Hayward missed almost the entire 2017/18 NBA season after suffering an injury in the opening game of the campaign, while Irving played most of the regular season and was key in helping them finish as the second seeds in the East behind the Toronto Raptors.

However, with both of them injured, the Celtics were expected to fall at the first hurdle against the Milwaukee Bucks, but they progressed to the semi-finals with a 4-3 win and came against the much fancied Philadelphia 76ers, but they made light work of them taking the best of seven series 4-1.

The Celtics were then pitted against 2015 champion and 2016 finalist Cavaliers, with many a former player and expert predicting an easy win for James’ team. However, Brad Stevens’ team almost pulled off the unexpected but fell in Game 7.

The Celtics’ performance has led many to suggest the team might be better off without their two injured stars — Irving and Hayward. But Ainge has dismissed any suggestions and was keenly looking forward to next season when the two will return and make the young team consisting of Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum even stronger.

"I get a kick out of the fact that, everywhere I go, people don't think we need Kyrie or need Gordon Hayward," Ainge said, as quoted on ESPN. "I have a much longer memory and remember how great those guys were and what an effort it took us to get them. I also remember how great they are and how young they are still. ... So we need Gordon and Kyrie, absolutely need them. If this playoff run and all the series of the playoffs didn't show that, then I don't know what does. We were able to win some games and we were able to fight through some tough battles, but we're much, much better with Kyrie and Gordon."

Ainge also provided an update on Hayward’s progress after the small forward suffered a leg injury just six minutes into the first game of the 2017-18 NBA season. He was ruled out for the rest of the campaign after undergoing surgery.

Hayward has since returned to court and is said to be holding one-on-one practices, but is a long way away from returning to competitive action. Ainge revealed Hayward could be playing basketball in two months’ time, which gives him ample time to get his conditioning back for the start of the next season in October.

"Gordon is progressing well," Ainge said. "He's on the court now, finally doing a little bit of competition, like just one-on-one. And he'll progress along that line slowly. We think that he'll be playing basketball in the next couple months."