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#pounditFriday, January 27, 2023

Celtics veteran has puzzled response to Ime Udoka-Nets situation

Ime Udoka looks over

Apr 25, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka coaches against the Brooklyn Nets during the second quarter of game four of the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Ime Udoka situation is throwing the Boston Celtics players for a loop once again.

Celtics guard Marcus Smart spoke with reporters Wednesday and expressed confusion over the recent development that Udoka may become the next head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

“Obviously, we wish he was here,” said Smart of Udoka, per The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. “We have no control over that. It definitely sucks. 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.

“His name got slandered and slaughtered and it was, ‘He’ll probably never coach again,’” Smart continued. “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.”

Udoka, who led Smart and the Celtics to the NBA Finals in his first season as their head coach last year, was suspended by Boston for the entire 2022-23 season due to an alleged inappropriate relationship with a female employee. Assistant Joe Mazzulla has taken over as interim coach, guiding Boston to a 4-2 record in the early going.

But the Nets, who are division rivals with the Celtics and have faced them in the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, just fired head coach Steve Nash. Now it appears Brooklyn is zeroing in on an improbable hiring of Udoka.

The reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Smart is the longest-tenured Celtic as well as the team’s emotional leader, so his reaction here is probably pretty telling of how the rest of his teammates feel too. One Celtics star also preceded Smart’s comments with a cryptic response to the Udoka-Nets buzz.

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