How looming Ime Udoka suspension affects Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown

Washburn: Tatum, Brown have opportunity to lead in Udoka’s absence originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

With training camp one week away, the Boston Celtics suddenly must prepare for a season without their head coach.

Ime Udoka reportedly is facing a year-long suspension for violating organizational guidelines. His assistant Joe Mazzulla is expected to replace him in the interim, but neither he nor anyone else on Boston’s bench has any NBA head coaching experience.

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If Udoka indeed is handed a lengthy suspension,¬†Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have even more weight on their shoulders. The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn says the Celtics stars will have to step up and lead their team when it needs them most.

“I think that they both have to just be more vocal,” Washburn said Thursday on Early Edition. “Remember, the big storyline before all this broke was Jaylen’s reaction to being in the KD (Kevin Durant) trade talks. So Jaylen has to let that go. That has to be like, OK, that’s over, I was a little upset, now I’m ready to be a leader and now I’m ready to be the man on this team to lead, to be more vocal.

“The same with Jayson. All the offseason stuff, all the stuff about Jayson struggling in the Finals, forget about all that. It’s time for you guys to be leaders on the floor, off the floor, at practice, during team meals, all that. Because you guys are the leaders of this team, unquestionably the leaders of this team. The main voice is gone of Ime Udoka at this point. So it’s on Jayson and Jaylen to both step up and be a louder voice, and forget some of the things that might have been gnawing at them entering training camp. All of that stuff is over.”

Even without Udoka, the Celtics have what it takes to return to the NBA Finals and potentially bring home Banner 18. They enter the 2022-23 campaign as odds-on favorites to take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Still, with the Udoka news following Danilo Gallinari’s ACL tear and another Robert Williams knee surgery, there’s no doubt it’s been a rough offseason in Boston.

The Celtics begin training camp next week and open their preseason on Oct. 2 vs. the Charlotte Hornets. Their regular-season opener is set for Oct. 18 vs. the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden.

You can watch the full Early Edition segment with Washburn below: