Atlantic Notes: Tatum, Udoka, Mazzulla, Brunson, Hart, Dinwiddie, Bridges

Head coach Joe Mazzulla had the interim tag removed by the Celtics, but star forward Jayson Tatum hopes Ime Udoka lands on his feet and revives his coaching career. He even called the suspended Udoka his favorite coach he’s played under, he told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.

“It’s been a tough situation for everyone involved,” Tatum said. “Whatever happened, happened. That didn’t have anything to do with me. I can’t take away the relationship that me and him had. And the impact that he had on us last season. I love Coach K, I love Brad (Stevens), I love (Mazzulla), I love all those guys. It’s just a different kind of relationship I had with Ime. He’s probably the most favorite coach I’ve had.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Stevens, now the Celtics‘ top exec, wanted to remove the cloud of uncertainty surrounding Mazzulla, leading to his promotion, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter links). Stevens has also been impressed how Mazzulla has navigated a difficult situation. “He’s an outstanding leader,” Stevens said. “I think he’s done a great job right from the get-go of galvanizing our locker room around a mission.” Mazzulla’s promotion was announced on Thursday.
  • Villanova’s largest fan base is situated in New York City, according to former coach Jay Wright, and that’s why there’s plenty of excitement that the Knicks have former Wildcats Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart, he told Zach Braziller of the New York Post. “Villanova people are just going crazy over it because they’re all Knicks fans,” he said. “It’s really thrilling for all of us. To see the joy it’s bringing all the Villanova people, and I should say the people who aren’t Knicks fans, they are now, Villanovans. You’re like a proud father, you’re watching your kids out there. It’s like they’re starting a business or something.”
  • Mikal Bridges and Spencer Dinwiddie have already emerged as the Nets’ new leaders after being acquired at the trade deadline, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post (subscription required). “Right now, I think it’s been Spencer and Mikal, just naturally their IQ and want and feel for the game,” coach Jacque Vaughn said.
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