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Beat writer's notebook

Some thoughts on Ime Udoka, the compensation issue, and other Celtics matters

The Celtics may be seeing Ime Udoka again when they face the Nets in Brooklyn Dec. 4.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

A few thoughts on the Ime Udoka situation and an interesting start to this Celtics season …

▪ Udoka’s imminent hiring by the Nets is surprising. It seemed unlikely that this situation would be career-ending for Udoka, but it also seemed unlikely that he’d be back this quickly.

The best guess here was that he’d serve his full suspension, he and the Celtics would agree on a settlement, and he’d be hired as a top assistant somewhere else next season. Then, after a year of staying out of the spotlight, he’d get another chance at a top job.

Instead, it appears that he’ll be back less than one month into this season. His introductory press conference should be fascinating, especially since Udoka showed last year that he is not afraid to say exactly how he feels.


The Celtics face the Nets in Brooklyn Dec. 4.

▪ The Celtics fan base is frustrated that the team is unlikely to seek compensation from the Nets in return for letting Udoka join them. When the Celtics released Doc Rivers from the final three years of his contract so he could join the Clippers in 2013, they ultimately received a 2015 first-round pick in return. And that month-long negotiation turned messy at times.

But this situation is more complicated. There are legal matters involved, and I’ve gotten the sense that the Celtics do not want to punish Udoka twice. If they suspended him and then also made it more difficult for him to obtain a new job by requiring an asset in return, it could have been viewed as further punishment.

Will the Celtics seek compensation if they lose Ime Udoka?Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Also, Udoka was unlikely to remain in Boston when his suspension ended, and the Celtics could have ended up having to pay a substantial amount of his salary when the sides parted ways. This route at least clears that up. The Celtics haven’t commented on the situation, but it’s clearly complicated.


▪ Udoka’s departure also will remove another distraction for the Celtics that was sure to surface during an inevitable rough patch of the season. This way, there will be no questions about when or if Udoka would return to replace Joe Mazzulla. There will be no shadow.

The Celtics front office remains quite high on Mazzulla, and he’ll get every opportunity to secure a long-term contract.

▪ It’s tough to look very far ahead during such an unsettled time, but it’ll be interesting to see whether Udoka’s departure eventually has substantial ripple effects on Boston’s coaching staff. Remember, he filled his staff almost exclusively with friends from the Portland area with whom he shared deep bonds, such as Damon Stoudamire, Aaron Miles, and Ben Sullivan.

And if Mazzulla signs a long-term deal, he probably would want to have some say in building his own staff. But don’t expect any changes this season.

▪ Speaking of Mazzulla, his approach to using timeouts is becoming a thing. In last Friday’s overtime loss to the Cavaliers, he did not call a timeout until midway through the third quarter, and the Cavs led by double digits for a good chunk of the first half.

The Celtics navigated their early struggles without Mazzulla stopping play and eventually flipped the big deficit into a big lead. But then they surrendered a 12-0 run in the third before Mazzulla called a timeout.


When the Celtics go on a run after Mazzulla lets them play through their struggles, it feels like the successful result of player empowerment. When they collapse without being given a respite to regroup, it feels like Mazzulla made a big error. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

▪ If you ever attend a game in Cleveland, the pizza at Flour is one of the better concession-stand items I’ve come across. Wood-fired goodness made to order.

▪ Former Celtics assistant Micah Shrewsberry, now Penn State’s head coach, stopped in the locker room after Wednesday’s game. His arrival brought smiles to the faces of the players who were still stewing over the loss.

When will Robert Williams return to game action?Jim Davis/Globe Staff

▪ Exactly six weeks have passed since Robert Williams underwent maintenance surgery on his left knee. After he received a platelet-rich plasma injection about two weeks ago, there was some suggestion that his return timeline of 8-12 weeks had been pushed back. But league sources stressed that Williams remains right on schedule.

He is arguably the Celtics’ third-most valuable player. As long as he’s healthy, his return should vault them to another level.

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.