Marcus Smart has passionate reaction to Ime Udoka reportedly joining Nets

Marcus Smart has passionate reaction to latest Ime Udoka report originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

If you were surprised and confused by Tuesday's report that suspended Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka was in line to take over as the Brooklyn Nets' head coach after Steve Nash's firing, you're not alone.

Celtics guard Marcus Smart shared some very candid comments to The Boston Globe's Adam Himmelsbach on Wednesday reacting to the news.

"Obviously, we wish he was here," Smart said of Udoka. "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."

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The Celtics suspended Udoka for the 2022-23 season on Sept. 22, citing "violations of team policies" that reportedly included an inappropriate relationship with a Celtics employee. Joe Mazzulla was named the interim head coach and is off to a good start this season, but Smart seemed perplexed that Udoka is set to become the Nets' head coach just weeks after being suspended by Boston.

"His name got slandered and slaughtered and it was 'He’ll probably never coach again,'" Smart said. "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."

Udoka found immediate success as Boston's head coach, as the Celtics swept the Nets out of the first round of the playoffs en route to an NBA Finals berth. Now, he's set to coach that same Nets team where he served as an assistant during the 2020-21 season.

Smart seemed most upset that the organization didn't share many details about Udoka's suspension (in part due to legal reasons and to protect the identity of the employee involved). Players also can't communicate with Udoka while he's suspended, which Smart admitted has been difficult.

"We obviously thought he’d be back, but obviously the team and organization felt a different way," Smart said. "Unfortunately, that’s the business side of it and we have to deal with it."

Smart reiterated his faith in Mazzulla as the Celtics' head coach, saying, "You can have more than one best friend" and that "we still love Ime, but Joe is our coach."

"They’re both our brothers and we love them the same," Smart added. "Unfortunately, the circumstances called for some desperate measures and Joe has the coaching job, so that’s who we’re listening to and that’s who we’re rocking with."