Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Celtics coach Ime Udoka likely faces one-year suspension for improper relationship, might resign, per reports

The Boston Celtics will likely suspend coach Ime Udoka for the entirety of the 2022-23 season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Udoka has considered resigning from his position, per Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix.

Late Wednesday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Udoka allegedly had an improper relationship with a staff member, violating team rules. On Thursday morning, ESPN reported that the Celtics would likely elevate assistant coach Joe Mazzulla to head coach on an interim basis. Mazzulla has been informed that he’s taking over, according to the Boston Globe‘s Adam Himmelsbach

ESPN reported that the team would announce Udoka’s suspension as soon as Thursday. As of Thursday afternoon, no such announcement has been made.

Boston hired Udoka last June, after Brad Stevens — Udoka’s predecessor — became team president. The Celtics started 23-24 under Udoka, but then dominated the remainder of the regular season, winning 28 of the last 35 games and finishing with the best defense in the NBA. Boston made the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010 and lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games. 

Prior to joining the Celtics, Udoka was an assistant coach for nine years. He spent seven seasons on Gregg Popovich’s staff with the San Antonio Spurs before one-year stints on Brett Brown’s staff with the Philadelphia 76ers and Steve Nash’s staff with the Brooklyn Nets

Mazzulla was an assistant coach under both Udoka and Stevens, having been hired by then-president Danny Ainge in 2019. Earlier this offseason, he interviewed for the Utah Jazz’s open head-coaching position, which eventually went to former Celtics assistant coach Will Hardy. Afterward, Boston promoted him to a front-of-bench role, per the Boston Globe

In 2013-14, Mazzulla started his coaching career as an assistant coach at Fairmont State. He left after three years to join the Celtics’ G League affiliate, then known as the Maine Red Claws, for one year, after which he returned to Fairmont State, where he was the head coach for two years. 

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