Celtics forward Jaylen Brown will miss the rest of the exhibition season after testing positive for COVID-19 Friday, head coach Ime Udoka confirmed Saturday. Brown will be quarantined for 10 days, which would put him in position to return to practice Oct. 18, two days before Boston’s season opener against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
“Hopefully, everything goes well and he’s back before the season starts,” Udoka said. “When I had it I had a 10-day period, so with that timeline he should be back. Depending on that, he’ll have a chance to get in shape and pick up where he left off. Hopefully he’s good to go by the season.”
Udoka, who was vaccinated, tested positive in late September but returned in time for Boston’s first training camp practice. He declined to say whether Brown is vaccinated.
“Overall, we don’t speak on our players,” Udoka said. “They have personal preference and in general that’s something we don’t discuss, our players. The main thing is we’re worried about his health and safety and getting him back on the court as soon as possible. Leave it at that.”
Udoka said the Celtics have been “more vigorous” with COVID-19 testing over the last few days, and they are hopeful there will not be any spread within the team.
Romeo Langford started in place of Brown against the Raptors Saturday night. Al Horford, who came off the bench against the Magic last Monday, also moved into the starting lineup, with Juancho Hernangomez coming off the bench.
Udoka has said he plans to use the preseason to experiment with various lineups and rotations. There is no question about Brown’s standing when he returns, of course, but his absence will create new opportunities for others over the next week.
“We were going to rest him in one of the preseason games anyway and look at some different lineups, so that doesn’t change,” Udoka said. “Just different lineups seeing players on the court who would have been on with him. But we do have time. We’ve seen it for the last week and a half, and like I said, we know his role. It doesn’t change at all. It’s about who else will be out there and the opportunity they get.”
The Celtics have mostly controlled their duels with the 76ers in recent seasons, including an 8-1 playoff record over the last four years. Celtics guard Josh Richardson, who played for Philadelphia during the 2019-20 season, said 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid snuffed out the idea that Boston was a true rival.
“Joel shut all that down,” Richardson said. “He was like, ‘They always kick our ass so it’s not a rivalry so we’re treating it like that.’ So I mean, it wasn’t really much of a rivalry, it was just like, ‘These guys are good, and are coming in here to whoop us, so let’s compete.’ ”