11:35 PM ET

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Wednesday that LeBron James’ departure from the Eastern Conference doesn’t change his expectations for his team, nor does it ease the road to claiming the conference.

Speaking to Boston reporters after the summer league Celtics’ offday workout, Ainge dismissed the notion that the East is for Boston’s taking after James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer.

“What do I care about the Eastern Conference? I don’t really care about that. We’re trying to win championships, and you still have to play LeBron,” Ainge told reporters after Boston’s summer squad practiced at Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas.

“I think that there’s a lot of good teams in the East that get undersold a little bit. I think Washington, and Milwaukee [is] an up-and-coming team, and Toronto was the best team in the conference last year during the regular season. I think they’re a fantastic team. So the East is going to be tough.”

Ainge repeatedly stiff-armed reporters’ attempts to discuss the status of restricted free agent Marcus Smart. Ainge said only, ” Our priority remains the same. Our priority is still Marcus in free

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