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Marcus Smart: Celtics seeking fresh start with Ime Udoka

Marcus Smart talked about a fresh start, new role at point guard and getting vaccinated at Celtics media day.

2021 NBA Playoffs - Brooklyn Nets v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Marcus Smart gets to play the position he always did on his path to the NBA this season. No Isaiah Thomas, no Kyrie Irving, no Kemba Walker. The point guard spot belongs to Smart, and he won’t have to look over his shoulder and wonder whether he’s doing too much, or too little.

“It’s easy for me, it’s finding (Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum) in the right spot,” Smart said at media day Monday. “I was one of the leaders in assists last year, and I think that speaks volumes.”

Smart said multiple times to begin his eighth media day in Boston that the Celtics are turning the page with Ime Udoka. He wished departing players well, talked confidently about his new role in the offense and weighed in on the vaccination grip rocking the NBA into its third season during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smart, who was one of the first Celtics who contracted COVID during March, 2020, got the shot, but added he respects anyone’s decision to not do the same. Enes Kanter noted in a Rolling Stones feature this week that Boston has multiple unvaccinated players among the league’s dozens of holdouts. Brad Stevens said Monday the team hopes to educate and get close to 100%. Ime Udoka, who was vaccinated, contracted the virus earlier this month and entered quarantine 10 days ago, largely free of symptoms.

“It’s tough,” Smart said. “It’s tough being told what you can and can’t do with your own body ... I chose to get vaccinated ... I didn’t feel like dealing with the B.S. ... I stand with anybody who wants to make their own decision.”

The Celtics signed Smart to a four-year, $77-million extensions during an offseason that featured uncertainty and confusion for the team. An array of new faces entered the building and Smart again mentioned the individual difficulties and personal loss he and his teammates faced during a turbulent 2020-21 season.

“I understand that things didn’t go as planned last year,” he said. “For us, it’s starting fresh, starting over ... just getting back to us.”

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