A league source confirmed to MassLive on Wednesday night that Ime Udoka will likely be suspended to start the regular season. “Celtics coach Ime Udoka had an improper, intimate, and consensual relationship with a female member of the team staff,” Shams Charania of The Athletic tweeted, citing sources. It’s been labelled as unacceptable behaviour for our team.
Udoka’s potential ban from the team was initially reported by ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who cited an “unspecified infraction of organisational regulations” as the reason.
Boston’s first trip to the NBA Finals since 2010 was orchestrated by Udoka, who had a fantastic rookie season at the helm. Despite a slow start (20-21), Udoka helped lead the Celtics to the NBA Finals with a stellar 51-31 regular season performance.
Wojnarowski made an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Thursday and suggested that he anticipates a potential ban coming down for Udoka’s infraction as soon as Thursday.
After a period of uncertainty, Wojnarowski believes that “clarity is looming” over how long the suspension might last. Possibly in the following two days. I anticipate that happening. The situation has progressed rapidly in recent days. This is a major setback for the Boston team as they prepare to begin training camp next week.
MassLive reported on Wednesday that a league source had indicated that Boston’s assistant coach Joe Mazzulla would be a strong contender to take over as head coach in the case Udoka was suspended. After Will Hardy left to become the head coach of the Utah Jazz, Boston promoted Mazzulla to be one of Udoka’s top assistants on the bench. As well as the other two finalists, the Jazz also considered Mazzulla for the job. For Udoka and Boston, Damon Stoudemire and Ben Sullivan are two of the best assistants. There is little chance that Brad Stevens will be an interim replacement.
In his debut year at the helm, Udoka led the Celtics to a 28-7 record and the NBA Finals from a 23-24 deficit. Despite being the preseason favourites to win the NBA Finals and NBA Championship, the Celtics fell short.
Considering Udoka’s uncertain status, that might quickly shift. This is the latest problem that Boston has had to deal with in this turbulent offseason. In a public statement, forward Jaylen Brown addressed trade rumours involving Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets. Danilo Gallinari, who signed with the Clippers as a free agent, tore his ACL while competing for Italy. Robert Williams III, the starting centre, will likely miss training camp as he recovers from knee surgery.
No final decision has been made on the length of a suspension, but internal discussions have included scenarios that would keep Udoka out for the entirety of the 2022-2023 season, sources told ESPN. https://t.co/Vnn2wWVcKA
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 22, 2022
On Monday, the Celtics will hold their annual Media Day, where they will address the media as a team before the start of training camp on Tuesday at the Auerbach Center. Neither the Celtics nor Udoka has addressed the matter publicly.
The Celtics may have to go on a significant coaching drought now. If he is indeed punished, Boston’s chances of making the NBA Finals again are diminished.