This post will be updated.
CANTON — The Celtics are holding media day on Monday afternoon. Here are some takeaways and quotes from the day as it unfolds:
■ Al Horford was as surprised as anyone when the Celtics traded two-time All-Star Isaiah Thomas to the Cavaliers. Just over one year ago, Thomas was part of the group that helped lure Horford to Boston.
“He gave everything he had every night,” Horford said. “That was something I appreciated about Isaiah that it didn’t matter what was going on no matter how big or how small, he always gave everything he had. He was one of the guys that was recruiting me to come here initially. So he’s a guy I have great respect for and I really wish him well and first of all to be healthy and well moving forward in Cleveland.”
■ Of course, while the Celtics lost Thomas, they did add another All-Star in Kyrie Irving. Horford has been playing against Irving for years and he knows what Irving is capable of. But he said it has been a bit different seeing Irving work in person.
“Man, he’s special,” Horford said. “He’s special. I was watching him work out on Tuesday and I was just blown away. I’ve played against him over the years. You see him on the court, you see some of the moves, you’re impressed like, ‘Yeah, he’s an All-Star player. He’s a really good player.’ But when you see him work at what he does in practice and how easy he’s able to score the ball and handle it and do certain things, it just really blew my mind. I don’t think people really understand how good a player he is. He’s gonna showcase that this year. He needs time to get acclimated and to catch up to speed with everything we have. His ability is unreal.”
■ There has been some buzz around Marcus Smart’s slimmed-down frame that has mostly been shown off in social media posts. Coach Brad Stevens said Smart “looks great,” and that Smart will be a critical part of the team this season.
“I think that his mind-set, his competitive spirit, his toughness, his will, all of those things make teams better,” Stevens said. “I think it’s a perfect complement to anybody and everybody to play with. And there’s a reason why his teammates speak so glowingly about him. We need Marcus. Marcus is an important part of this team.”
■ Smart said he weighed in at 223 pounds on Monday, 17 pounds below his playing weight last season. He said that with the departure of the team’s top perimeter defender, Avery Bradley, he is ready to take on a role defending quicker guards like John Wall.
“My strength has never been lost,” Smart said. “There’s that weight that I lost, but the fat has turned into muscle. And now you add a little bit of quickness and more explosiveness, so now I can contest those guys more at the rim, instead of, once they get by me they’re by me.”
■ The Celtics drastically reshaped their roster during the offseason, with just four players returning from last season. And it is not like they have just brought in a bunch of veterans who need to learn how to play together.
“We have five guys that have never played in the NBA,” Stevens said.
■ Stevens said the Celtics have not discussed possible protests during the national anthem this season, but that he expected it to be an ongoing conversation.
“I think ultimately, we as the Celtics organization support our guys and their right to take a stand and protest peacefully and promote positive change,” Stevens said.
Celtics forward Jaylen Brown said he reached out to his teammates on Sunday about the issue with the intention of “opening up a dialogue about it.”
“I think basketball and athletes have a tremendous opportunity with our platform to do something about it,” Brown said.
■ Celtics forward Marcus Morris remains in Phoenix as he stands trial for assaulting a former acquaintance in 2015. “He will obviously be there until that concludes,” Stevens said.
■ Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum has already drawn comparisons to Celtics legend Paul Pierce, with Pierce even fanning the flames a bit by saying that Tatum is considerably more advanced than he was at this age.
“It does add pressure,” Tatum said, “especially when someone like Paul Pierce speaks that highly about you. I guess I just have to keep working and hopefully one day I can hopefully achieve some of the things he’s done in his career.”
■ Forward Gordon Hayward is just beginning to learn a new system, and he is also learning a new city.
“I’m still trying to use Waze for everything,” Hayward said, smiling. “The intersections here are a little bit different from what I’m used to.”