Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka has reportedly gotten himself mired in controversy prior to the 2022-23 NBA season.
Udoka enjoyed an excellent first season as a head coach and was able to lead the Celtics to 51 wins and their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010. However, it appears that the successful young coach currently finds himself in hot water.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier that Udoka was facing the possibility of a suspension from the Celtics due to a "violation of organizational guidelines." The Athletic’s Shams Charania has now revealed what Udoka did to receive this punishment.
“Celtics coach Ime Udoka had an improper intimate and consensual relationship with a female member of the team staff, sources tell @Athletic,” Charania tweeted.
At this point, it is unclear how long Udoka’s suspension from the Boston Celtics will be.
The Boston Celtics are set to enter the upcoming season as NBA title favorites. However, the potential loss of their head coach to start the season and the uncertainty surrounding the situation will come as a blow.
Who could replace Ime Udoka as Boston Celtics interim head coach?
According to a follow-up report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Ime Udoka could be suspended for as long as the entire upcoming season. However, the Boston Celtics are not considering firing Udoka.
“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”, Wojnarowski tweeted.
This means the Boston Celtics will likely have to promote one of Udoka’s assistant coaches to interim head coach for however long Udoka is suspended. The Celtics' top assistant from last season was Will Hardy. However, Hardy was already hired away to be the Utah Jazz’s head coach earlier this offseason.
So as of now, Boston Celtics assistant coach Joe Mazzulla is reportedly the top candidate to become Udoka’s temporary replacement. Mazzulla has been an assistant in Boston since 2019 and was also a finalist for the Jazz’s head coaching vacancy earlier this summer.
Whoever replaces Udoka will certainly have big shoes to fill. Udoka completely changed the culture in Boston during his first season and helped the franchise create a defensive-minded team identity. He also became the fifth rookie head coach to make the NBA Finals in the last 25 years. In addition to that Udoka became the first rookie head coach to win multiple Game 7s in a playoff run. It’s hard to envision any potential replacement enjoying the same level of success right off the bat.