Title Favorites Celtics, Nets Address Dramatic Offseasons
When it comes to offseason drama, few sports leagues do it quite like the NBA. There are trade demands, superstars forming super teams behind the scenes and petty drama that can occasionally play out on social media for everyone to see.
NBA media days can provide some answers and context to the drama of the past offseason and give a better understanding of what’s to come. With each team holding its media days over the past week, here are the most interesting storylines worth following.
Boston Celtics Deal with Coaching Change
Ime Udoka was suspended for the season because of an improper relationship within the organization. Assistant Joe Mazzula was anointed as the head coach for the season, but the sudden change has seemingly caught all of the players off guard.
“It’s been hell for us,” Marcus Smart said on Monday’s media day. “Caught by surprise. Nobody really knows anything, so we’re just in the wind like everybody else. So, these last couple of days have been confusing.”
The team’s top two players, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, said they haven’t talked to Udoka since the news broke of his suspension. According to Brown, not even the players have been made aware of everything surrounding Udoka.
“I wish we had more details,” Brown said. “From what we know, it’s hard to make a decision based upon whether it’s consensual or not in the workplace or whatever’s going on, which we’ve known that’s happened before in the workplace. But I guess there’s more to it than (that) possibly, which I don’t know. I don’t have all the details. It’s not being shared with me.”
Udoka’s suspension was just the latest bad break for Boston this offseason. Danilo Gallinari tore his ACL during international play, while Rob Williams will miss more time with another knee surgery.
Still, even with all the setbacks, the Celtics are among the title favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook. The Celtics have the second-best odds to win it all at +600.
Brooklyn Nets Regroup After Offseason Demands
Only the Celtics’ recent issues with Udoka come close to the tumultuous offseason the Brooklyn Nets just had. There were Kyrie Irving’s contract negotiations, Kevin Durant’s trade request, and then Durant’s ultimatum the team fires general manager Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash. Oh yeah, and now Ben Simmons is set to return after sitting out last season.
As it turned out, Irving re-signed, Durant’s trade request wasn’t fulfilled and now the Nets are set to run it back after an offseason filled with awkward circumstances.
“Families go through things like this,” Nash said. “Go through adversity, go through disagreements. This is not new to the NBA. It has happened dozens of times. I’m sure every organization has faced that … It’s a part of working in this business. It’s super competitive. We’re all prideful. We all have expectations, and when we get dinged up like we did last year, you know, everyone’s disappointed ... We cleared the air and we spoke and we got on the same page.”
Durant cited the team’s recent uncertainty as the motivating factor behind his trade request. Irving was a part-time player for much of last season, while James Harden was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for Simmons, who didn’t end up playing and had back surgery in May. At 34, Durant wanted to be assured this team was still ready to compete for titles.
“As the season went on, you see what happened with our season, guys in and out of the lineup, injuries, just a lot of uncertainty, which built some doubt in my mind about the next four years in my career,” Durant said. “I mean, I’m getting older, and I want to be in a place that’s stable and trying to build a championship culture. So, I had some doubts about that. I voiced them to (Nets owner) Joe (Tsai), and we moved forward from there.”
With the Nets roster in place, the team has the third-best odds to win the NBA title at +700 on DraftKings Sportsbook.
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