New Celtics head coach Ime Udoka was intrigued by the chance to work under Brad Stevens, a president of basketball operations uniquely positioned to understand Udoka’s role as well as anyone, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.
The Celtics, in turn, were drawn to Udoka due to his work ethic, his pedigree – including his experience working under Gregg Popovich – and his ability to connect with a young team. According to Himmelsbach, during Udoka’s previous stints as an assistant, he’d often go out for dinner with players to learn more about them.
Udoka’s final interview with the Celtics took place on Sunday, with Stevens, team owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca, and VP of player development Allison Feaster all present. While that group ultimately made the decision to hire Udoka, the C’s also sought input from former president of basketball ops Danny Ainge and multiple players, including Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Himmelsbach notes.
As Udoka takes the reins in Boston, he’ll be tasked with rebuilding the Celtics’ defensive identity and developing the club’s young talent, Kevin Pelton of ESPN writes in an Insider-only story. Pelton suggests that Udoka may also prioritize increasing the team’s ball movement and putting players in positions to create shots for teammates — Boston’s rate of assisted field goals ranked 27th in the NBA in 2020/21.
Here’s more from around the Atlantic:
- Marcus Smart isn’t a traditional point guard, but he’s a “criminally underrated” passer, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston, who outlines why Smart could be the Celtics‘ starter at the point in 2021/22 with Kemba Walker gone.
- The Raptors secured the fourth overall pick in a draft that is viewed as having at least four top-tier prospects, but that doesn’t mean they’re content with simply staying put and taking whichever player drops to them, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. General manager Bobby Webster suggested the club will be open to a variety of scenarios with that selection. “All of our options are open,” Webster said. “As much as we would love the pick, we’re going to see what it yields outside of the draft.”
- Veteran guard Nando De Colo, who technically remains a Raptors restricted free agent despite not having played in the NBA since 2014, will return to Fenerbahce in Turkey for at least one more season, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Toronto has issued De Colo a qualifying offer for seven straight years to retain his RFA rights and will likely do so again this summer.
- While there’s no guarantee that the Ben Simmons era in Philadelphia will come to an end this offseason, Chris Mannix of SI.com believes that it should, arguing that Simmons and the Sixers would both benefit from a fresh start.