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How Al Horford wants Celtics to handle Ime Udoka-to-Nets rumors

November 04, 2022

A report that the Brooklyn Nets plan to hire Ime Udoka as their next head coach has been a lot for Boston Celtics players to process.

But Al Horford is ready to turn the page.

After Marcus Smart suggested he was surprised and confused by the idea that Udoka could be coaching Boston's rival despite being suspended by the Celtics for violating team policies, Horford was asked for his take on the situation Friday.

"We'll see how that develops. Right now, our focus is on our group and continuing to move forward," Horford told reporters at Boston's shootaround ahead of its game against the Chicago Bulls at TD Garden. "If that materializes for (Udoka), obviously we'll be happy for him, but at this point, we've already moved forward. ... We need to bounce back. That's what's on my mind."

The last several weeks have been a whirlwind for the Celtics, who had to adapt to the season-long suspension of the head coach who took them to the NBA Finals in his first season. While interim head coach Joe Mazzulla has the full support of the players and the organization, Smart and others admitted it was a bit jarring to see reports that Udoka could land in Brooklyn.

While Horford understands where his teammates are coming from, he believes that now is the time to look ahead rather than behind.

"That’s something that’s there. It’s a real thing. But at the end of the day we have a job we have to do," Horford said. "We have a season in front of us. We've prepared for this.

"If that ends up happening for Ime, we'd be happy for him, but at this point, man, we've got to look ahead. The games are coming on. Things are not going to get easier, and we've got a big challenge starting tonight with Chicago. So, our group, we're moving ahead. We have to focus and look ahead."

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Horford makes a fair point. The Celtics have lost three of their last four games after starting the season 3-0 and face a tough test Friday in a Bulls team that beat them by 18 points on Oct. 24. The players can't control what happens with Udoka, so it's in their best interest to focus on the task in front of them as they aim to get back on a winning track.