Celtics Notes: Smart, Udoka, Mazzulla, R. Williams, G. Williams

Celtics guard Marcus Smart remains frustrated that he and his teammates don’t know the whole story about why head coach Ime Udoka was suspended for the entire 2022/23 season, and he was surprised to learn on Tuesday that Udoka might be headed to the Nets, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Smart said that he had been given the impression that Udoka would be back with the Celtics next season.

I guess it was deemed that whatever happened was enough for him not to be the coach here, but I guess not enough for him (not) to be a coach anywhere else, obviously,” Smart told Himmelsbach. “… (Udoka’s) name got slandered and slaughtered and it was, ‘He’ll probably never coach again.’ And a couple of months later now he’s possibly going to be the coach of one of our biggest rivals? It’s tough. It makes no sense. But we can’t control that. We have to control what we can and I love the team here. I love the coaching staff. I love Joe (Mazzulla).”

Smart acknowledged that he recognizes why Celtics management can’t necessarily be fully open about the circumstances of Udoka’s suspension, but said that doesn’t make the situation any easier or any less confusing.

“It really doesn’t matter what we say (to the front office),” Smart said. “We can voice our opinion, but I’m sure it’s going to be, ‘Yeah, we hear you.’ And that’s it. I’m sure they know how certain people feel. But it is tough, because there’s only so much that they can say. It’s a tough spot for everybody. It just sucks all around.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • The Celtics’ brass is “fully invested” in Mazzulla and is happy with the work he has done as the head coach since replacing Udoka, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. That’s a key reason why the team seems comfortable moving on from Udoka.
  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic considers what’s next for the Celtics and Udoka if the team lets him leave for Brooklyn. As Weiss notes, the C’s would be able to get Udoka’s contract off their books and would no longer have to worry about what to do when his suspension ends, but the team would probably have to prepare some turnover on its coaching staff, especially if Mazzulla wants to bring in some of his own assistants.
  • The Celtics had the NBA’s top defense a year ago, but only rank 22nd so far this season. While that number should improve, Boston’s ceiling on defense is limited until Robert Williams returns, writes Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com. “Without Rob Williams, they’re a very good team, but they’re in that second tier,” a source told Bulpett. “With Rob Williams, they’re a top defense and a championship level team. That’s what he does for them.”
  • Celtics forward Grant Williams sat down with Shams Charania of Stadium (video link) to discuss several topics, including not signing a rookie scale extension before the regular season began.
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