Celtics Players Know Few Details About Ime Udoka’s Situation

The Celtics have been guarded about releasing information on the actions that led to the suspension of head coach Ime Udoka, and the players haven’t been told much either. After interim coach Joe Mazzulla handled his first preseason game Sunday, Marcus Smart told Steve Bullpet of Heavy that the team hasn’t been informed about what actually happened.

“That’s the thing, we don’t know anything,” Smart said. “So I don’t know what they can and can’t talk about or what the legal reasons are. That’s not my business, and I don’t want it to be. They made a decision. Whatever they feel, they have every right. That’s why you have your lawyers and things like that. So whatever they can say, they’ll say.

“But it’s just tough, because we don’t know what they can say because of that reason. So it’s tough on both sides. But we’re here to play basketball. We’ll let those guys figure it out, and we’ll go from there.”

Udoka will sit out the entire 2022/23 season as punishment for having an affair with a staff member. At a press conference last month, team owner Wyc Grousbeck said a law firm that investigated the matter discovered “a volume of violations” that Udoka allegedly committed. He also suggested that Udoka will face “a significant financial penalty,” but didn’t offer any specifics on the case.

A report last week from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski stated that the law firm found Udoka used “crude language” toward a female subordinate before their affair began. It cited “the power dynamic” as an important factor in the suspension, but provided little other information.

Former NBA player Matt Barnes seems to be among the most informed sources on the case, recently retracting his defense of Udoka and telling an interviewer that Udoka will be lucky to ever coach in the NBA again. Bulpett states that Smart shrugged and laughed when asked if it’s frustrating that a media member might know more about the details than he does.

“I mean, it’s just what it is,” Smart said. “It’s not weird to me, you know? Somebody that’s not close to the situation in terms of being on the team, I guess it’d probably be a little bit easier for him to get more information than us. So I’m not surprised. It’s how these things can go. So we just have to wait and let it run its course and let everyone do their job and wait until they can tell us what they can tell us.”

After Sunday’s debut, a 134-93 win over the Hornets, Mazzulla said he was “grateful” for the opportunity to coach the Celtics and thought the team responded well to its first preseason test, writes Steve Hewitt of The Boston Herald. Players were supportive of their new coach as they face the task of trying to win the East again without Udoka on the sidelines.

“I thought he was terrific. I thought he was great. I thought he was composed,” Malcolm Brogdon said of Mazzulla. “I thought he had some excellent out of timeout plays. I thought he did an excellent job. It’s going to continue to get tougher for him, continue to get tougher for us as we get to the regular season and teams start really scouting us we play high-level competition, but I think me and all my teammates have the utmost confidence in him to be ready for that and keep us motivated and continue to prepare us the right way.”

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