It was through Twitter that Jayson Tatum learned Ime Udoka was facing severe repercussions for violations of team policy, which ultimately led to him getting suspended for the 2022-23 season.
"I feel like everybody else. It's a lot to process. Unexpected especially coming into the season when you feel a certain way." Tatum added, "it's just a lot, if I'm being honest."
Marcus Smart described players as being in "a state of shock" upon learning about Udoka's suspension and the information given to them for the reasons behind that decision when the Celtics met to discuss the matter last Thursday.
Jaylen Brown echoed that sentiment, expressing, "we were all shocked by what was going on. A little confused; a lot of the information wasn't being shared with us, so we can't really comment on it."
When asked whether the team owes the players more information, Smart conveyed, "yes, but we don't know what the organization knows, so it's kind of hard to say that, adding, "that's none of our business. It's their lives, the people involved, it's between them, and we should respect that privacy."
Smart also stated, "from what we do know, the organization has handled it the right way."
Udoka's actions stripped the Celtics of a coach they trusted, respected, and under his guidance, the team became mentally tougher, exemplified by them winning two games while on the brink of elimination against the Bucks, then pulling out Game 7 in Miami to break through the Eastern Conference Finals barrier that had consistently stood in their way, pushing through to the NBA Finals.
Still, this is a group with championship aspirations. Boston added Malcolm Brogdon, who averaged 19.1 points, 5.9 assists, and 5.1 rebounds with the Pacers last season. And despite the turmoil the Celtics are dealing with, between bringing in a player of Brogdon's caliber without subtracting any of the mainstays from their playoff rotation and projected internal growth, Boston's listed as the betting favorite to win the 2022-23 NBA title by SI Sportsbook.
To build trust and move forward towards the team's ultimate goal, Brogdon believes "it takes honesty. I think (that) we all have to be honest about where we are and where we want to go. It's definitely a time of adjustment, a time of change right now, that happens in the league."
He added, "you have to be honest during that process because, honesty, I think that breeds sort of collectiveness and moving forward together as a unit. Having Joe (Mazzulla) as the head coach now, he'll have to rely on us and lean on us, and we'll have to do the same with him."
While the circumstances dictating Boston's coaching change are something Brogdon hasn't experienced, he's been on teams that dismissed their head coach, including the strife between Pacers players and Nate Bjorkgren that led to his dismissal. Brogdon expressed that sometimes the veterans on a team are impacted the most, but they also have to be the ones players can lean on.
"In those times of doubt, I'll be here," declared Brogdon. "I'll be here to talk. I'll be here for guys to lean on me, and we're going to get through this."