Celtics’ Marcus Smart on Ime Udoka’s situation with the Nets: surprised and confused

CLEVELAND— Boston Celtics guardian Smart Marcus expressed confusion over reports that suspended head coach Ime Udoka was heading to the brooklyn nets. Until reports surfaced on Tuesday, Smart thought Udoka would return to the Boston bench next year.

“From what we know and what we’ve been told, it was just a suspension. We didn’t know he was leaving to coach someone else,” Smart said. thought they just suspended him for a year and he was coming back. That’s why it’s confusing. We haven’t been told too much about it.”

The Brooklyn Nets are close to reaching an agreement to hire Udoka to replace Steve Nash, Athleticism reported. Nash was fired this week after starting Brooklyn 2-5 (now 2-6). Jacque Vaughn will coach the Nets on an interim basis and general manager Sean Marks said he has “absolutely not” hired a replacement yet.

Udoka previously served as Nash’s staff assistant coach in Brooklyn.

Six weeks ago, Udoka was suspended by Boston for the 2022-23 season for multiple violations of team policies related to an intimate relationship with a female staffer at the organization. Joe Mazzulla has been promoted to replace Udoka for this season, although a permanent decision on his future has not been determined.

If the Nets hired Udoka, he would return to an NBA bench just weeks into the new season.

Celtics Guard Jaylen Brown said he was instrumental in Udoka’s initial introduction to Boston and was thrilled to see him get another chance so soon.

“It would have been great if we could find a way for him to be with us, but I guess that wasn’t the case,” Brown said. “I’m just happy to see a black head coach get back on his feet because I’ve seen situations where something like that might not have happened.”

Udoka led the Celtics to the NBA Finals in his only season as head coach. He and Marks previously worked together as assistant coaches at San Antonio before Marks moved into the front office.

The news of Udoka heading to Brooklyn this week shocked Smart.

“I think a lot of people were like, ‘What’s going on here?’ Because obviously they suspended him for breaking a team rule. And it’s like, ‘OK, now obviously this feels like more than a suspension. But he is still able to train. So what exactly was the team’s rule and how important was it to the point that they felt they had to suspend him and then all of a sudden say, ‘You’re gone’ and allow him to go practice somewhere else?

“I think that’s the confusing part because no one on both sides knows and there’s not much people on both sides can say and talk about. It’s just a difficult situation for all parties. involved.

Smart said asking questions of Celtics president Brad Stevens, his former head coach, wouldn’t help because no one can divulge much information.

“I don’t think you’ll ever get a straight answer about what’s really going on because there’s only so much they can say and they know,” Smart said. “You can ask, but I don’t think it’s going to change anything, help anything. I think asking is just expressing how you feel, whatever you feel, out of your chest. But really that’s it. I don’t think it will change or affect the outcome. They made their decision. »

Stevens attended the Celtics filming on Wednesday before their game against the ridersbut he did not address the reporters.

“I care about our guys the most,” Mazzulla said in a pregame press conference. “I care how they process things, I care what they go through. I hope they know we can always talk about anything. I had many conversations with them about several things.

“But the most important thing for me is that they feel they can just be heard and they can talk to me. We try to do it consistently. I hope they feel that.

Celtics Forward Jayson Tatum didn’t want to talk about the reports until Udoka’s hiring became official. But Tatum said he was fully aware that Udoka could leave to coach another team.

Brown will continue to support Udoka no matter where he lands.

“I wish he was here because Ime is a good guy. I believe it,” Brown said. “It’s unfortunate to see where he was and everyone was worried if he might have another opportunity. So to hear that he potentially has another opportunity, it sucks it’s not there, but I’m glad he can get back on his feet.

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(Photo by Ime Udoka and Marcus Smart: Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

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