CANTON, Mass. — Malcolm Brogdon knew he would be playing for a new coach when he chose to be traded to the Boston Celtics this offseason, but the seventh-year veteran obviously didn’t realize the circumstances would lead him to play under interim head coach Joe Mazzulla.
Brogdon, a well-respected guard after his six seasons in the league, can’t relate to his Celtics teammates who have had Mazzulla on the staff for the past three seasons. But based on what Brogdon has heard from them since his arrival, and the sentiments shared by others around the NBA, the first-year Celtic was able to bring a different perspective regarding the first-year head coach. And it’s one Celtics fans might appreciate given the recent suspension to head coach Ime Udoka.
“He’s, honestly, an incredibly impressive guy,” Brogdon said of Mazzulla during Celtics media day Monday. “Joe, I think, he’s only 34 years old, but he’s incredibly disciplined. The first thing I pick up on Joe is, he’s in there with me lifting, I’m one of the first guys in the gym, and he’s in there with me lifting every morning. He’s a guy that is so detail-oriented. I am like-minded with people who are detail-oriented, they care about the small things, the little things that get them through the day.
“He’s a guy that’s paying attention to everything,” Brogdon continued. “He’s a guy that’s incredibly locked in and intelligent. Then I’ve heard from the players, the players respect him and love him. His ability to put together scouts, I heard, against Miami and against a few teams last year in the playoffs were brilliant. And he’s got that reputation around the league, as well, as I’ve talked to people. So I think he’s a guy that’s ready for this opportunity and is going to thrive in it.”
And while Brogdon can’t relate to his Celtics teammates regarding familiarity with Mazzulla, he does enter Boston with a knowledge others don’t have. Brogdon already had played for five coaches in six professional seasons. Jason Kidd was at the helm of the Bucks during Brogdon’s first two seasons in Milwaukee before Mike Budenholzer took over entering the 2018-19 campaign. From there, Brogdon’s next three seasons in Indiana resulted in three different Pacers coaches including Nate McMillan (2019-20), Nate Bjorkgren (2020-21) and Rick Carlisle (2021-22).
A poster boy when it comes to playing under new coaches, Brogdon knows the effects it can have on a group. He also knows he can offer a helpful quality for the Celtics, as he can both relate and pass on his experiences.
“I think it affects everybody whether or not you’re showing it or not. It’s impactful for sure,” Brogdon said. “But I think it’s the vets, the leaders, the top guys on your team that are the ones that have to, sometimes adjust the most, but also have to be the ones that guys can lean on and talk to and have to sort of be even-keeled through chaos. And a guy like me, that’s had seven or eight coaches in seven years, I mean, it’s been a lot. There are going to be times where I think guys are going to have to lean on me and sort of watch how I just ride the wave. Sometimes that’s what you have to do. You have to keep your head down, continue to work, because there’s going to be change. It’s inevitable in the NBA, it’s inevitable in life. And you wake up another day and you get through it.”
Brogdon acknowledged how the recent suspension to Udoka has been “difficult” for everybody. But is more than willing to serve in a leadership role should that be what the Celtics seek.
Udoka, as Celtics fans surely have heard, has been suspended by the organization for the 2022-23 campaign for violations of the team’s policy. Udoka reportedly made unwanted comments to a Celtics female staffer after their relationship started as “improper” yet “consensual.” Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck did not provide any additional information given “privacy” concerns, and it seems members of the teams have been kept in the dark much like the public has.
The Celtics took the floor for their first training camp session Tuesday with three weeks until they open the regular season.