Rival Execs Don’t Expect Ime Udoka to Return as Celtics Coach

Ime Udoka led the Celtics to the Finals in his first season as an NBA head coach. And it may end up being his only season as Celtics head coach — or a head coach anywhere.Ime Udoka

Udoka was suspended for what the team referred to as an inappropriate relationship with a female employee. He is out for the year.

And per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, rival executives think Udoka is done for good. At least in Boston, anyway.

“I spoke with four NBA executives this week about the Ime Udoka situation in Boston,” Scotto said on the HoopsHype podcast, with guest Jared Weiss of The Athletic. “Each of those four executives told HoopsHype they don’t think Udoka will return as coach of the Boston Celtics after his yearlong suspension is done.”

Weiss added that “that seems to be the consensus” among rival GMs and others around the league — and that it appears “unlikely” Udoka will return.

“I feel like they’re moving on with that expectation and that the reason for a suspension is more about whatever legal processes are happening right now rather than they genuinely want to reassess it in the future,” Weiss said. “I’m sure there is some degree of uncertainty whether or not they would bring him back.”

One NBA agent was more direct in a recent assessment of Udoka’s future.

“He’s done,” the agent told Ethan Strauss of Substack.

Strauss went on to write that this is indeed how many around the league feel is in the cards for Udoka.

“While nobody can completely predict the future, it is a widespread interpretation of present events,” Strauss wrote, mentioning that the woman involved is married.

Udoka was apologetic in a prepared statement of his own.

“I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down,” Udoka said. “I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team’s decision. Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment.”

Assistant Joe Mazzulla is serving as interim head coach in Udoka’s absence. It sounds as if the job is now Mazzulla’s to lose.

Udoka arrived in Boston last summer after one season as an assistant under Steve Nash with the Nets. He served as an assistant with the 76ers in 2019-20, and for seven years under Gregg Popovich with the Spurs before that.

Prior to his coaching career, Udoka was a small forward with the Lakers in 2004, then spent time with the Knicks, Trail Blazers, Spurs and Kings from 2006-11. He also played professionally overseas.

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