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Malcolm Brogdon on his time with the Celtics: ‘I didn’t feel very valued there’

It also doesn’t sound like he loved playing for Joe Mazzulla.

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Malcolm Brogdon, Boston Celtics
Malcolm Brogdon, Boston Celtics
Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

On October 1, 2023, Malcolm Brogdon’s one-year stint with the Boston Celtics officially came to a close when he was sent to the Portland Trail Blazers as part of the Jrue Holiday trade.

Nearly five months later, the 2023 NBA Sixth Man of the Year seems to be enjoying his new home in Portland. He recently discussed the offseason with The Athletic’s Jason Quick and revealed that he feels like he is more valued by the Blazers than he ever was with the Celtics.

“When I was first traded, I viewed it as an opportunity. I really did,’’ Brogdon told Quick. “You can ask people around me how my energy was in training camp. I was excited to be here. I was excited to be with a championship coach. And I was excited to go from a place where I wasn’t as valued, and go to place where I am very valued.’’

Orlando Magic v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Brogdon later doubled down and explained that it didn’t feel great when the Cs elected to trade him, despite his award-winning 2022-23 season.

“At times. At times,’’ Brogdon said. “I was there for a year, won Sixth Man of the Year, and they shipped me out. So like … I didn’t feel very valued there. Here, I feel valued. Portland has embraced me. And I’ve enjoyed being coached by Chauncey (Billups).’’

Now, it’s not out of the ordinary for a player who was traded to be less than thrilled with the organization that sent them packing. Especially after the Celtics tried to trade Brogdon three months prior in a move for Kristaps Porzingis. That preliminary version of the deal fell through and Marcus Smart wound up being the Celtic guard who was headed to a new home.

After that, the summer was full of tension. Several reports surfaced indicating that Brogdon was upset. Joe Mazzulla had even discussed the “healing process” that had been necessary, following the failed swap.

“The organization has had a few conversations [with Brogdon],” Mazzulla told reporters, per CLNS Media. “I think anytime that you’re in a situation like that and you’re in a relationship, you just have to take small steps into it. There’s a healing process, there’s a listening process, and there’s a process towards — this is where we’re at and this is where we have to get to. So, we’ve had some conversations as an organization, but at the same time we understand the situation that it was and as the healing process goes on, we’ll continue to move just forward as well as we can.”

The above media scrum was also the one where Mazzulla revealed that Derrick White would be the team’s starting point guard. It’s tough to imagine that Brogdon was overjoyed with that decision either.

To this reader, it sort of feels like he took a subtle jab at Mazzulla. He first cited his excitement about playing for a “championship coach” in Billups, who won a title as a player, but hasn’t done so as a coach, and then brought it up again in the second part of the statement.

This wouldn’t be the first glimpse we’ve gotten of a speculative rift between the two.

Shortly after Boston was bounced from the playoffs last spring, The Athletic detailed the intricacies of the team’s grueling run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. One thing featured in the piece was Brogdon’s frustration with the team’s offensive focus, which was spearheaded by Mazzulla.

“I think we have such a high-powered offense with two great superstars and we have such great role guys that no other team really has with so many of them,” Brogdon told The Athletic after losing Game 7. “I think we tended to focus on offense more than anything and making shots and relying on making shots rather than playing defense. And I thought we thought we could make enough shots at the end of the day that defense didn’t have to carry us like it did carry them last year.”

Brogdon’s willingness to get candid about the Cs shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, though.

His recent interview with Quick isn’t the only time that he’s elected to take a jab at one of his former teams. When Brogdon first left the Milwaukee Bucks in favor of the Indiana Pacers back in 2019, he revealed that he wasn’t pleased to be playing a lot of shooting guard for the Bucks. He told JJ Redick that he liked the larger role that Indiana was able to offer, during an appearance on his podcast in June of 2020.

“Take the money out of it. I was playing shooting guard with the Bucks,” he said. “I enjoy playing shooting guard, but scoring is not my main thing on the court, it’s actually not what I want to do. That’s not my first option. I want to get guys involved. I want to win, I feel like I’m a winner above everything else and I compete on both ends. And Indiana brings the best out of me, when you look at what I just talked about.”

He went on to discuss leadership and sort of made it feel like he wasn’t able to lead with Milwaukee.

“Putting me in the point guard position, it allows me to play in my role, in my position, and lead. I think the point guard has to be, if not the leader, one of the biggest leaders on the team. He has to be vocal, he has to demand respect and that’s what I feel like I bring to the game, and bring to my team.”

At the end of the day, it doesn’t sound like Brogdon loved how things went with the Celtics. He didn’t love the coaching, his role within the team and the sacrifice that he had to make coming off of the bench, or the fact that he wasn’t a part of their long-term plans.

You can’t really blame him for being frustrated with the way things went down. But, this sort of jab at the organization may prove why he isn’t the greatest fit for this year’s edition of the team. Especially with the main theme surrounding the group has been sacrifice.

His replacement, Holiday, has served as an epitome of the world. In short, he went from being an All-Star with the Bucks to now taking the fewest shots per game since his rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Yet, he’s done a great job of doing what’s asked of him — playing defense and remaining ready if his scoring is needed.

“Am I? I mean, yeah, based off of where I came from,” Holiday said back on January 9, in regards to the sacrifices he’s made to help the Celtics win games. “But that was a different team with different needs and what they needed out of me. This team, what they need out of me is for me to be solid. For me to be open to different types of strategies and situations every single game, where I might be guarding a big, or I might be on a small, or a big might be on me; there’s so many different scenarios.”

So, should Celtics fans be upset that Brogdon took a jab at their beloved franchise?

No. Things worked out for everyone here. He’s happy in Portland and Holiday has been a key piece of Boston’s league-best 37-11 record.

The two teams still have yet to play this season. If Brogdon’s still a member of the Trail Blazers past the trade deadline, then he’ll get his first chance for revenge on March 11, when the Cs head to the Pacific Northwest.

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