Lingering questions about the suspension of head coach Ime Udoka were the main topic at the Boston Celtic's usually plain media day proceedings on Monday, where the players and their new head coach shared their thoughts about the difficulties of trying to start the season.

The Celtics suspended head coach Udoka for the entire season last week following reports of an inappropriate relationship with someone within the organization. Speaking to the media on Friday, Celtics principal owner Wyc Grousbeck and president of basketball operations Brad Stevens stood by the decision to suspend Udoka for “violations of team policies,” pointing to a monthslong investigation conducted by an outside law firm. There has been no official confirmation of what exactly those violations entailed.

The dramatic turn of events came just days before training camp was to start for a team that has been widely expected to contend for a championship this season, and several Celtics players said they were as much in the dark about what was going on as everyone else. Star power forward Jayson Tatum said that he first heard about the situation through Twitter.

“You know, nobody expected this coming into the season and, you know, we were all kind of caught off guard by everything,” he said. “But we’ve got to try to move forward and play basketball.”

Marcus Smart said the past few days had been “hell” for the players given just how quickly everything happened and the lack of details.

He pointed out the difficulty of the situation unfolding right before the players had to answer questions on media day.

“It’s been tough because this type of situation takes away, unfortunately, from the players who are here ... who’s put in the work and who’s going out there to do their jobs,” he said.

Smart said he wanted to know more from the organization about what happened but also understood that the situation is delicate.

“Literally, no one knows anything right now,” he said. “We’re still waiting just like everybody else. So, as a player, you would like to [know more], but at the same time, that’s none of our business. It’s their lives. ... It’s between them and we should respect that privacy, and we understand, just like we want our privacy respected. So, although as a player, yeah, you would like to know. But like I said, it’s not an obligation.”

Jayson Tatum speaks to reporters at Celtics media day on Monday.
Esteban Bustillos GBH News

Jaylen Brown said there was shock and confusion when the news broke, but that it was hard to comment because the players themselves weren’t privy to much information.

When asked if Udoka could come back after the suspension to coach the team, he said he didn’t know.

“It’s a lot of speculation. It’s a lot of questions that everybody has, really, that we don’t know, that they probably can’t share for privacy reasons, so it'd be unfair for me to comment on that,” Brown said.

Joe Mazzulla, who has been with Boston since 2019, will take over for Udoka as the interim head coach. Speaking to the press for the first time in his new role, Mazzulla said that the most important thing for him is making sure that he and the players are on the same page, and that he’s trying to give people time to process what's happened.

“It’s an unfortunate situation for everyone involved and so you have to give people the time and space to feel and the time and space to heal,” he said. “And so that’s key, you can’t rush anything.”

Mazzulla himself got in legal trouble while playing in college at West Virginia, including an arrest in 2009 for allegedly grabbing a woman by the back of the neck at a bar. Stevens said last week that he fully vetted those incidents before hiring him, and Mazzulla said that he’s not the same person that he was then.

“The situations I put myself in as a younger man I’ve had to use to learn from and to become a better person,” he said. “And that’s what I’ve tried to focus on, is how can I recreate my identity as a person? How can I rely on my faith? And how can I just have a positive impact on the people around me?”

The highly publicized staffing changes could take away from what is supposed to be one of the team’s most hopeful seasons in years following a trip to the NBA Finals last year. Still, Tatum was adamant about his team’s chances when asked if they could win the championship this season.

“Can we? Do I believe that? Absolutely. Absolutely I believe that,” he said. “And I think everybody else does in that locker room as well.”