Ime Udoka

More Details Emerge In Ime Udoka Situation

New details have emerged regarding head coach Ime Udoka‘s suspension from the Celtics for the entire 2022/23 season. Sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the independent law firm that investigated Udoka listed “the power dynamic associated with a superior’s improper relationship with a staff member” to be the main policy violation.

In addition, the report from the investigation found that Udoka used “crude language” toward a female subordinate before beginning an improper workplace relationship with the same employee, which played a significant factor in the suspension’s severity, Wojnarowski writes. The language Udoka used “was deemed especially concerning coming from a workplace superior,” according to Wojnarowski, who adds that Udoka is likely facing a “difficult pathway” to reinstatement for the 2023/24 season.

Sources tell Wojnarowski that Boston would allow Udoka to pursue other coaching opportunities if he becomes a candidate in the future. Rival teams have been trying to gather information to get a better picture of what led to the suspension “in preparation for possibly evaluating him” for coaching jobs, Woj adds.

Owner Wyc Grousbeck previously stated the report uncovered “a volume of violations” and Udoka would face “a significant financial penalty” as part of the suspension.

“This felt right, but there’s no clear guidelines for any of this,” Grousbeck responded when asked whether Udoka should have been dismissed. “This is really a conscious, gut feel and being here 20 years.”

After a rocky start to the ’21/22 season, Udoka’s first as a head coach, he led a dramatic turnaround that saw Boston reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010, ultimately falling to the Warriors in six games. Joe Mazzulla was named interim head coach in place of Udoka.

Celtics Notes: Udoka, Stoudamire, Larranaga, Mazzulla

Suspended Celtics coach Ime Udoka‘s head coaching days in the NBA at large may be numbered, according to one connected source. During an interview with “DJ Vlad” Lyubovny on Lyubovny’s YouTube channel VladTV (YouTube link), player-turned-podcaster Matt Barnes voiced his skepticism regarding a long-term coaching future for Udoka, who led his team to a 51-31 season in 2021/22 and an NBA Finals appearance.

“It’s not about what he did, it’s about who he did it with,” Barnes said. “If everything comes out, he’ll be lucky to coach in the NBA again to be honest with you.”

There’s more out of Boston:

  • Celtics assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who is close friends with Udoka, wants to help Boston continue its trajectory as a perennial contender, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Stoudamire enjoyed a 13-year playing career during which he was named the 1996 Rookie of the Year. “Nothing has changed in the room in what the expectations and the goals are,” Stoudamire said. “We’ve got to be prepared from that standpoint, mentally more than anything, because I think physically things will be there. We’ll get to that point.”
  • Although Clippers assistant coach Jay Larranaga has opted to remain in Los Angeles, the Celtics are talking to additional assistant coach prospects to bolster the bench behind interim head coach Joe Mazzulla, reports Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link).
  • Mazzulla is retaining the structure and pacing of Udoka’s practices during training camp, but players have noticed differences in approach as the new interim coach strives to establish himself, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. “There’s similarities, but there’s some differences as well,” star wing Jaylen Brown said. “But at the end of the day, this group has been together for a while, so we hold each other accountable for what we need to do and the energy level practice gotta be at every single day.”

Celtics Notes: Mazzulla, Udoka, Smart, Tatum, Brown, Horford, Brogdon

Joe Mazzulla has suddenly been thrust into the spotlight as the Celtics’ interim coach after Ime Udoka was suspended this season for violating team policy. Guard Marcus Smart believes Mazzulla, who has been a Celtics assistant since 2019, can handle the job, Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com writes.

“It would’ve been different if we had somebody new that we didn’t know and were trying to build that connection with,” Smart said. “Joe has been here. He knows the scheme, he knows the players, so it makes it a little bit more easier to adjust to a guy that’s been here and knows you.”

We have more on the Celtics as they prepare for another run at the championship:

  • Smart admits the players were blindsided by Udoka’s suspension right before camp started, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tweets. “Nobody really knows anything,” Smart said. “We’re just in the wind, like everybody else. The last couple of days have been confusing.” Jayson Tatum says he doesn’t know all the details that led to the suspension, Mannix adds in another tweet. “Apparently there are a lot of things they can’t speak about. I’m kind of in the same boat,” he said. “I don’t know. It’s hard for me to answer if things were handled in the right way or they weren’t.”
  • Jaylen Brown also expressed confusion over why Udoka was handed such a severe penalty by the organization, Weiss adds in a separate tweet. “I wish we had more details,” he said. “From what we know, it’s hard to make a decision based on whether it’s consensual or not in the workplace, which we know has happened before in the workplace. It looks like there is more to it than what meets the eye.”
  • Generally, the players are frustrated they don’t have more information on Udoka’s situation, though legally the team may have to withhold certain information, Mannix notes (Twitter link).
  • Brown tried to downplay questions regarding the Kevin Durant trade rumors over the summer, Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets. Brown was the most prominent player mentioned among the discussions Boston had with Brooklyn. “I think it’s been the same since I’ve been here. It wasn’t surprising or not surprising, to make me feel some type of way,” he said. “It just is what it is. I talked to my teammates and the organization about it and now it’s just time to play basketball.”
  • Al Horford missed 13 regular season games last season as the Celtics chose to ease the workload on the now 36-year-old big man. Horford said he prepared this offseason to handle an increased workload and play back-to-backs this season, according to Weiss (Twitter link).
  • Malcolm Brogdon was presented with a few different trade options by the Pacers and told them he wanted to be dealt to Boston “because I want to win,” Bontemps tweets.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks Rotation, Barrett, Udoka

Knicks team president Leon Rose will not impose minutes limits or rotational guidelines on head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s lineups this season in New York, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “We love our young players, too,” Rose said during an interview with the team’s cable channel MSG Network.

“Thibs decides who plays, how many minutes, what the rotations are. The one thing I know about Thibs – he’s going to make decisions based on who is going to win us a basketball game. That’s his role and I have full confidence in that.” During a lottery-bound year last season, the team’s intriguing young players Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes were all still given relatively limited run in favor of the team’s older starters.

Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Though newly-extended Knicks small forward RJ Barrett may still have All-Star upside, he has plenty to prove in New York, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “I will not be surprised if that contract ends up looking as an overpay,” an NBA source tells Berman. “But I don’t blame the Knicks for signing him to an extension. Expectations aside, he’s improved into a solid starter in the NBA who can provide offense. I don’t think he’s good enough to be a top-three guy on your team. But some views on him are colored by expectations as a No. 3 pick in the [2019] draft.”
  • Celtics employees are grappling with fallout from the bombshell news of Boston’s year-long suspension of head coach Ime Udoka following a workplace affair with a female staff member, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic“We have a lot of talented women in our organization and I thought yesterday was really hard on them,” team president Brad Stevens said on Friday in addressing rampant online speculation about the identity of the female staffer with whom Udoka engaged in an affair. “I think that nobody can control Twitter speculation… But I do think we as an organization have a responsibility to make sure we’re there to support them now, because a lot of people were dragged unfairly into that.”

Celtics Notes: Udoka, Grousbeck, Stevens, Centers

During a press conference on Friday, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck said a law firm hired to investigate coach Ime Udoka’s intimate relationship with a female staff member uncovered “a volume of violations,” writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. The team reached out to the law firm this summer after being made aware of the nature of the relationship. Grousbeck added that the investigation focused entirely on Udoka, and no one else in the organization is facing disciplinary action.

Grousbeck received the firm’s report on Wednesday and talked to several shareholders before deciding to impose a season-long suspension on Udoka that runs through June 30. He added that there is a “a significant financial penalty” that goes along with the suspension, but didn’t specify whether Udoka will go through the entire year without being paid.

“This felt right, but there’s no clear guidelines for any of this,” Grousbeck responded when asked whether Udoka should have been dismissed. “This is really a conscious, gut feel and being here 20 years.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Team president Brad Stevens‘ answer about the level of communication Udoka will have with the team during his suspension was troubling, contends Steve Buckley of The Athletic“I’m not going to get into specifics of what I, how we’re moving forward with that,” Stevens said at the press conference. “But I will say that he’s got a lot of relationships with a lot of people. As we alluded to earlier, yesterday wasn’t an easy day for a lot of people in a lot of ways.” Buckley warns that any conversations between Udoka and the players could undermine 34-year-old interim coach Joe Mazzulla and recommends that the suspended coach should be banned from talking to them during the season.
  • Stevens wasn’t interested in returning to his former job as head coach while Udoka is suspended, per Brian Robb of MassLive. Grousbeck brought up the idea, but Stevens believes he can better serve the team by staying in his current position and acting as an advisor to Mazzulla.
  • Stevens told Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe that the Celtics won’t overreact to Robert Williams‘ injury by signing a veteran big man before giving a chance to players already on the roster. Washburn suggests that could mean more minutes for Luke Kornet and possibly two-way player Mfiondu Kabengele.

Atlantic Notes: Barnes, Udoka, Celtics, Knicks, Williams, Nets

After initially being against the Celtics‘ decision to suspend head coach Ime Udoka for the season, former NBA player Matt Barnes has since retracted those comments, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee writes. Barnes says the situation is much worse than he originally realized.

“Last night, I spoke on this Ime Udoka situation without having all the facts, and I think as a part of the media, often the media speaks to something, and when they’re wrong, they won’t come out and say it,” Barnes said.

“Since I’m a part of the media now, and I try not to be like everyone else, I try to report and talk with facts and honesty, and I clearly have to say, last night, without knowing all the facts, I spoke on Ime Udoka’s defense, and after finding out the facts after I spoke, I erased what I posted because this situation in Boston is deep. It’s messy. It’s 100 times uglier than any of us thought.”

Barnes added that it’s not his place to share what he heard. Shams Charania of The Athletic initially reported that Udoka was suspended for having an improper, intimate and consensual relationship with a Celtics female staff member, but later stated that the staffer had accused Udoka of making “unwanted comments” to her.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic:

Latest On Ime Udoka

The affair with a staff member that led to coach Ime Udoka’s year-long suspension has been known about by some members of the Celtics organization since July, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Franchise leaders originally believed the affair was consensual, but sources tell Charania that the woman recently accused Udoka of making “unwanted comments” to her. That led to several internal interviews that resulted in Thursday’s announcement that Udoka won’t coach the team this season.

Team owners and president Brad Stevens met for several hours Thursday to determine what action to take against Udoka, Charania’s sources add. Stevens and some front office officials also talked to players about Udoka’s fate at the team facility.

The 45-year-old coach issued a brief statement Thursday night apologizing to players, fans, the team and his family. He said he accepts the decision and won’t comment any further on the situation.

There’s more on the potential effects of Udoka’s suspension:

  • Udoka may become a candidate for other head coaching jobs that open up, possibly as soon as this season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on a SportsCenter appearance (video link). Udoka wasn’t given any assurances that he will return to the Celtics’ sidelines once his suspension is over, and Woj indicates that the team is still figuring out its next step. Wojnarowski also said the decision to impose a one-year suspension rather than firing Udoka right away could be “legal protection” for the organization.
  • Joe Mazzulla, who will take over as interim coach, will be in a difficult position all season, Jared Weiss of The Athletic says in a discussion of how Udoka’s actions will affect the team. Mazzulla is getting his first head coaching opportunity at age 34, but not as the result of going through the normal hiring process. The Celtics have confidence in Mazzulla, but the pressure to succeed will be intense. The team expects to contend for a title after its run to the NBA Finals last season, and there could be calls for a change if Mazzulla doesn’t succeed right away.
  • Don’t be surprised if the Celtics consider bringing in Lakers head coach Frank Vogel as an assistant, tweets Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Vogel has a long relationship with Stevens and would bring some head coaching experience to the team’s bench.
  • The Udoka situation could have negative repercussions long past this season, suggests A. Sherrod Blakely of Full Court Press. Udoka was hired partially because of the bonds he formed with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown on Team USA, and Blakely wonders if his potential departure might make those stars look elsewhere when they become free agents.

Celtics Suspend Ime Udoka For 2022/23 Season, Will Promote Joe Mazzulla

The Celtics have officially announced in a press release (Twitter link) that they have suspended head coach Ime Udoka for the entirety of the 2022/23 NBA season, as had been expected. Ominously, the club also announced that it will decide Udoka’s long-term fate with the franchise “at a later date.”

Udoka, who is engaged, reportedly had a consensual affair with a female Celtics staffer, which has been determined to be a violation of Boston’s “organizational guidelines.” Udoka issued a statement expressing remorse for his actions, as Malika Andrews of ESPN relays (via Twitter).

“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.”

As had been previously reported, Boston will elevate assistant coach Joe Mazzulla to the role of interim head coach, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Mazzulla previously served as an assistant coach with the team’s NBAGL affiliate, then called the Maine Red Claws, during the 2016/17 season. He has been a Boston assistant since 2019, when the Celtics were still led on the sidelines by Stevens.

Whether or not Udoka actually remains in Boston following his suspension remains somewhat up in the air. A source informs Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter) that there is a chance Udoka will ultimately not be permitted to return to the team as coach.

Udoka was known as one of the league’s top assistants over much of the last decade. He was hired for his first head coaching gig with the Celtics last summer following stints in San Antonio, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn. In what may have been his lone year with the club, Udoka led Boston to a 51-31 record and an NBA Finals berth, finishing fourth in Coach of the Year voting.

Fielding a similar roster in 2020/21 while being coached by current team president Brad Stevens, the Celtics had gone just 36-36, earning the No. 7 seed in the East and suffering a first-round playoff elimination.

Ime Udoka Not Planning To Step Down From Celtics Job

Celtics head coach Ime Udoka could be suspended from the team for the entirety of the 2022/23 NBA season, but he does not intend to step down from his post, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).

An official decision on the duration of his suspension has yet to be announced. Sources informed Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link) earlier that Udoka had considered the possibility of resigning.

Udoka, who is engaged, is being penalized for a consensual affair he conducted with a female Boston staffer. The team is set to make a formal determination on the timeline for the second-year head coach’s punishment later today.

After a 12-year playing career in pro basketball, Udoka became a well-regarded NBA assistant. He served under Gregg Popovich with the Spurs, Brett Brown with the Sixers, and Steve Nash with the Nets before getting his first stint as a head coach with Boston.

During his first season as the Celtics’ head coach, Udoka led Boston to a 51-31 record and its first appearance in an NBA Finals since 2010. The Celtics fell to the Warriors in six games.

With Udoka anticipated to miss potentially the entire 2022/23 season, assistant coach Joe Mazzulla is set to assume the mantle of interim head coach for the immediate future.

Woj: Celtics Likely To Suspend Ime Udoka For Entire Season

The Celtics will likely suspend head coach Ime Udoka for the entire 2022/23 season for his role in a consensual relationship with a female staff member, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, a formal announcement is expected later today.

Wojnarowski first reported on Wednesday night that Udoka was facing a possible suspension for violating the Celtics’ “organizational guidelines.” Shams Charania of The Athletic later offered more details, stating that the head coach had an “intimate and consensual” relationship with a female member of the Celtics’ staff.

It was exactly one year ago today that Gersson Rosas was fired by the Timberwolves as reports surfaced indicating that he had engaged in an extramarital affair with a female member of the Wolves’ staff. In that instance, Rosas’ job performance was cited by Minnesota as the primary reason for his dismissal. In Udoka’s case, the Celtics presumably have no complaints about his on-court performance during his first year as an NBA head coach in 2021/22.

After a slow start, Boston finished the regular season as the NBA’s hottest team, claiming the No. 2 seed in the East. The Celtics then made a run to the NBA Finals, coming within two wins of the franchise’s first title since 2008.

Assuming Udoka is suspended for the entire season, assistant coach Joe Mazzulla is expected to become the team’s interim coach for 2022/23, Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter). Will Hardy, who was Udoka’s top assistant last season and likely would’ve been first in line to become the team’s interim coach, left the organization this offseason to become the head coach in Utah.