The remade Boston Celtics took the podium during media day Monday and center Al Horford admitted it’s strange only four players return from last season’s Eastern Conference finalists.
“Very strange,” Horford told reporters, via Brain Robb of Boston Sports Journal.
Horford is one of those four returnees — with guard Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier, and second-year forward Jaylen Brown being the others.
Of course, excitement continues to surround the team with an exciting list of newcomers that includes point guard Kyrie Irving, small forward Gordon Hayward and rookie wing Jayson Tatum, the third overall draft pick.
Also back, of course, is coach Brad Stevens, hailed as a man who knows how to get every ounce of determination out of his team at every moment.
As is always the case this time of year, the vibe is positive, with Horford saying he’s been “blown away” in watching Irving practice.
‘Who wouldn’t want to play for the Celtics?” asked guard Shane Larkin, another free agent addition.
Here’s more out of Boston:
- Irving didn’t say much of note during his time at the podium, other than praising the Celtics as a franchise. “I know their stance is to be behind their players,” he said.
- Tatum admitted he does indeed feel some pressure as a lottery pick on a team that will likely need him right away. “A little bit…I have to live up to what my teammates think,” he said. The 6-foot-8 former Duke standout did say he was wondering if he might be traded. “it was a crazy summer,” Tatum said. “I’m glad I’m still here.”
- Smart lost 20 pounds during the offseason by changing his diet and avoiding fried foods, Robb noted. “He’s moving faster, jumping higher … it’s kind of weird,” Brown said of Smart.
- When Hayward joined the Celtics in free agency, the roster featured Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, since shipped to Cleveland in the Irving deal. “There was going to be a rivalry regardless, but the trade amplifies it even more,” Hayward said of Celtics-Cavs. “I’m looking forward to it.”