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What they’re saying at Celtics media day: What players think of Ime Udoka, new additions, and more

Marcus Smart signed a contract extension during the offseason.Adam Hunger/Associated Press

The Celtics are holding media day at High Output studios in Canton. Here are the key quotes from the day.

President of basketball operations Brad Stevens

On his first training camp as an executive rather than a coach:

“The last couple of weeks have been a lot slower than usual for me. I have not worried one bit about a bad drill in practice, haven’t thought twice about any of that stuff, because it’s not my role. So the cadence of this work is a little bit different and the phone rings a little bit more, but for the most part this time of the year, our team is out there, our team is our team and we’ll evaluate as we continue to go through the season and try to become the best version of ourselves.”


On filling the back end of the roster with veterans:

“We’re just trying to put together a team that can really be a team that Boston will appreciate and will play the right way with great team-ness and great toughness. And part of that is understanding what’s coming at you. And so to have the opportunity to get a couple of guys that have been in those battles at different places, or in Enes [Kanter’s] case back in Boston, is really important.

“We still have a number of young guys. And if they earn their way up into great opportunities, then they earn their way up into great opportunities. That’s beautiful, that’s great. But we want to make sure that we’re giving ourselves the best chance to accentuate our best players and give ourselves kind of multiple options, multiple avenues as a team to be good.”

On newly acquired wing Juancho Hernangomez:

“He’s a guy with his size and his shooting ability and his cutting ability that we think could accentuate some of our better players ... I think one of his under-discussed great qualities is his cutting. And with all the attention that Jayson [Tatum] and Jaylen [Brown] get specifically, the right time to cut is an important quality. And so that’s one of the many things that drew us to him.”


Jayson Tatum

On his summer:

“I had a good summer. I was fortunate enough to be part of that team and win a gold medal. It was a great experience. I feel like I could learn a lot from that and playing overseas and then just competing every day at practice with those guys and how special they were and just try to take that into the season.”

Jayson Tatum strikes a pose during Media Day.Omar Rawlings/Getty

On leadership:

“Understanding that one of the main guys of this team that’s going to be looked upon to do a lot. But I’m just excited. I’m excited about everyone else’s development, about the work they put in this offseason. Everybody’s been looking really good in the gym. It’s a good feel. Everybody is just pretty upbeat and ready to get started.”

On Al Horford’s return:

“We got Al back. That’s somebody I loved playing with my first two years, a great teammate, a great professional, a great person and his value goes off the court in the locker room and things like that. So I’m very happy and we’re fortunate to have Al back.”

Jaylen Brown

On his recovery after wrist surgery:

“Feeling good. Some days are better than others, with my wrist at least. Some days I’m dealing with some swelling and things like that. Even on my bad days, I feel great. I feel excited and ready to go with time off to heal basically. I’m excited for this year.”


On Ime Udoka:

“He has my full attention, my full respect. I’m completely bought in. I’m looking forward to trying to be an extension of him on the court and trying to win these games and trying to have our experience in the start to his first year as head coach of the Celtics be a good one. I think that’s the goal.”

On a harder coaching style:

“I think ‘hard’ looks different for some coaches than other coaches. Getting coached hard from Brad is not really getting coached hard; that wasn’t his coaching style. It depends for sure, but I’m looking forward to it.

“I keep an open mind. So I’m open to any form of teaching and/or learning that exists. Whatever he feels the most comfortable with, I think I’ll be able to adapt and gravitate to just having an open communication. To be honest, I think that’s the most important thing. I expect to be in his office a lot talking to him a lot, trying to get the most out of this group.”

Marcus Smart

On signing a contract extension:

“I think when you get into negotiating anything, there are always questions. That’s part of the business. I think a lot of things get taken out of sight when it comes to the game that it’s a business first. Sometimes you have to do things or say things or not do things and say things that you probably would when it comes to business status.


“But like I said, we’re here, I’m excited to be back, I’m excited to be with these group of guys, I’m excited for a fresh start.

Marcus Smart landed a new deal with the Celtics this past offseason.Adam Hunger/Associated Press

“It was definitely different, it was a little uncertain, confusion, but I think we’re kind of past that now and everything is kind of in stone. We’re ready to rock and roll. The team we have now is the team we want to rock with.”

On expressing his desire to have the ball in his hands as a playmaker more:

“I was one of the leaders in assists last year, and that speaks volumes for my playmaking skills and what I can do with the ball in my hands. Just having that opportunity to finally go out there and do it without having to look over my shoulder, or having to worry about what they’re going to tell me if I’m too aggressive here or not too aggressive there and just really picking those spots.

“But it’s going to be easy, just having Jayson and Jaylen, two unbelievable players in this league. We’re going to need them a lot this year. We’re going to lean on them a lot, and we’re going to do a good job making sure they get the ball.”


Al Horford

On sitting out most of last season with the Thunder:

“It was tough. You always want to be out there and want to play. What I did was took that time and focus on working on my body and making sure that I kept taking steps to be in the best position that I could.

“One of the things with the organization and Sam Presti and the owner Mr. [Clay] Bennett, they were great with me. They knew how I felt about having a chance to play back here. Nothing is ever guaranteed but I was very happy that they were able to work it out and bring me back here. I’m very grateful to be here.”

On playing for Ime Udoka with the 76ers two seasons ago:

“He’s very good with really engaging the group and getting his point across, really connecting with us players. The time I got to spend with him, that’s what I saw. He really held people accountable, being very clear and telling people how he sees things and things like that.

“Those were my impressions from him that impressed me when I was with him. Those were some of the things I saw from the inside, I expect him to do that same thing here.”

Al Horford is back for his second stint in Boston.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

On reuniting with former Hawks teammate Dennis Schroder:

“I honestly didn’t think we had a shot at getting him or anything like that, but that was the one that I was like, ‘Man.’ He has such an edge to him. I know how he can impact the game with his intensity and with his drive and I liked playing with him in Atlanta.

“I just know that being in this position he is in now, he’s going to be great. When I saw that was a possibility, I was really hoping for it. I called Brad, I was like ‘Do we have a shot?’ He was like, ‘I don’t know, maybe.’ When things worked out, I was really happy.

“So I’m excited to be back with a lot of the guys and I think it’s going to be good. I think our group is going to be good together.”

Dennis Schroder

On signing with the Celtics:

“Before free agency hit, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Tatum, Brad Stevens, Ime, they all texted me and called me and it showed me they really, really want me here. I think that was a great sign for me and that’s the reason why I decided to come to Boston.

“Of course because of Al as well, because I had a great time in Atlanta with Al, and he’s such a great guy. His family, just being around him, and his mentality, his chemistry with all the locker room, with all the teammates, is just such importance for me as well. I knew when I’m coming here, Al got the locker room under control.”

On the free agency process:

“When free agency hit, there were a few days when my agent and me talked a little bit and said, ‘Listen, this is not how we thought it’s going to be,’ but a few days after, I had a couple of options and I was talking to some teams and I think Boston was just the right fit and the right mentality, how the organization works, the system. It’s a winning mentality that was just for me the right move to make.

“I hope that this is going to be for a long time. But, like I said, this is new to me. I came here yesterday with my family. I just wanted to see how the organization is. I heard a lot of good things, even from Sam Presti, I talk to him a lot. He said great things about this organization and I can’t wait to get further and meet all of those guys.”

Juancho Hernangomez

On being traded twice this summer, to the Grizzlies and then the Celtics:

“I know the business part of the NBA. It was hard, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to keep going and I never give up. After that, I came here with a trade so I was so surprised. I’m so happy. I know the team wanted me for a long time, but coming to a great team, a winning culture is huge for me. I need this opportunity for me and it’s the best thing I can ask for.”

On how he can help Boston:

“I know the player I am, I know my skills, and I think I can bring that to the table, you know, open the floor, playing without the ball, rebound the ball, and fighting every possession. I think that’s huge for the team, I know how hard they compete, and I want to be on the same level, to help them.”

Robert Williams

On signing his extension:

“To be honest, I ain’t seen nothing like that before. So that’s my first reaction. But like I said, it gave me more of a sense of urgency that this organization is trusting me with something like that. So just lock in. That’s all I can do.”

What sort of role will Robert Williams have on this year's roster?Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

On adding some muscle:

“It’s something I was focusing on. They got Andre Drummond over there with the 76ers, man, c’mon. I need a little meat on my bones. Obviously, don’t want to get to the point where I can’t use my versatility but for sure I tried to some pounds on.”

Josh Richardson

On his role with the Celtics:

“I see myself kind of as a gap filler. Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve been kind of like the glue guy, a guy who can morph into whatever the team needs on any given day. And one thing I bring every day is intensity and I’m vocal. I don’t mind talking. I don’t mind helping guys out or guys helping me out. So just being a good communicator and a gap filler.”

On improving his 3-point shooting:

“I’m just trying to be consistent. I think the last couple years I’ve been through slumps and then I’ve had good stretches. But if I can put those good stretches together for a whole year I think that I can help this team a lot and give guys that kick-out guy, that when they throw it out there they don’t have to worry about it and it goes in at a high clip.

“I’m not really super worried about it. I think that I put in a lot of work this summer to try to fix the small things that I saw that I was missing and I was doing wrong. So I’m coming in confident.”

On playing for Ime Udoka with the 76ers two years ago:

“He’s a sharp coach. I think that the way we see things basketball-wise lines up and he’s always been a straight shooter. That’s how I know him and that’s how I am and that’s how I would like my coaches to be. So going forward, seeing him as a head coach is going to be fun, seeing how different he is. But my expectation is that it’ll be a great job for him and he’ll get the locker room and we’ll all take to his philosophies.”

Grant Williams

On the new coaching staff:

“At the end of the day, they are very personable because a lot of them played. A lot of them had a role whether it was Damon in the NBA, whether that’s Will Hardy, whether that’s Aaron Miles. Down the line you have a lot of guys who have basketball knowledge and experience. So it’s just exciting to see and exciting to be a part of.”

On learning from Al Horford:

“I feel like it’s going to be a great opportunity. Al, the player that he is, makes it easier for everyone around him every single day no matter who he’s playing with. He’s so gifted when you see him play. I’d never really played with him … I had played against him. And you see all the skill that he possesses with shooting, passing, ability to cut, read the game.”

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.