Celtics suspend coach Ime Udoka for 2022-23 season

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Celtics have suspended Ime Udoka for a complete yr, banning the coach who led them to the NBA Finals final spring for all of the 2022-23 season over what two other folks with wisdom of the topic mentioned was once an incorrect dating with a member of the group.

The other folks spoke to The Associated Press on situation of anonymity since the staff didn’t divulge that element publicly. In a observation issued Thursday evening after a complete day of wrangling over the phrases of the punishment, the Celtics mentioned Udoka violated staff insurance policies and left open the likelihood {that a} longer separation may apply.

“A decision about his future with the Celtics beyond this season will be made at a later date,” the staff mentioned.

Assistant coach Joe Mazzulla will take over as period in-between coach, probably the most individuals who spoke with The AP mentioned. The protecting Eastern Conference champions are scheduled to carry media day on Monday and open coaching camp on Tuesday in preparation for the Oct. 18 season opener.

In a observation printed by way of ESPN, Udoka apologized “to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down.”

“I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team’s decision,” he mentioned. “Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment.”

An established assistant in his first NBA head training activity, Udoka led Boston to a 51-31 file final season — going 26-6 within the ultimate 32 video games. The Celtics beat Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Miami on how one can the NBA Finals, the place they misplaced to the Golden State Warriors in six video games.

The trends shocked the NBA and shook up a staff that were a number of the favorites to contend for a championship this season. It can be an unparalleled 18th name for the franchise.

But in Boston, the tale was once harking back to the shakeup throughout the city in 2020, when Red Sox supervisor Alex Cora was once suspended by way of Major League Baseball for a yr for his position in a sign-stealing scandal at his earlier activity, with the Houston Astros. Instead, the perimeters parted tactics.

After a last-place end underneath Ron Roenicke within the pandemic-shortened season, Cora was once re-hired a yr later and welcomed again.

It is unclear if Udoka and the Celtics shall be as desperate to reunite.

The 45-year-old Udoka spent the majority of his NBA taking part in profession with San Antonio after which joined Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s body of workers as an assistant. Udoka was once at the Spurs’ body of workers from 2012 thru 2019, profitable all of it in ’14, and he briefly discovered his means onto quick lists for open head training jobs.

He spent the 2019-20 season in Philadelphia and the 2020-21 season in Brooklyn prior to the Celtics employed him in June 2021 because the successor to Brad Stevens — who moved as much as the entrance place of business. In Year 1, Udoka completed fourth in coach of the yr balloting and the Celtics got here inside of two wins of the championship.

“The future is bright and we’re just getting started,” Udoka mentioned after the NBA Finals.

Perhaps now not.

The bombshell at the eve of coaching camp is the newest twist heading into what was once intended to be a promising season for the NBA’s most-decorated franchise.

The Celtics strengthened their runner-up roster by way of obtaining guard Malcolm Brogdon in a industry from Indiana, then added sharpshooting veteran ahead Danilo Gallinari as a loose agent. But final month, Gallinari tore the ACL in his left knee and shall be misplaced for the approaching season.

Center Robert Williams, a key a part of the Boston protection scheme who performed thru accidents all the way through final season’s playoffs, remains to be coping with knee soreness and is anticipated to leave out the beginning of the season.

The Celtics had been additionally discussed in hypothesis over a brand new house for Brooklyn ahead Kevin Durant, a perennial All-Star who requested for — after which sponsored off — a request to be traded. Although the talks amounted to not anything, it raised questions on Boston’s dedication to younger famous person Jaylen Brown.

It’s additionally the second one primary disciplinary state of affairs in as many weeks within the NBA: Commissioner Adam Silver made up our minds final week to suspend Robert Sarver — the landlord of the Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury — for 12 months and fantastic him $10 million after an investigation confirmed his development of hectic office habits, together with abusive and racist language. Sarver mentioned Wednesday he intends to promote his groups.

Mazzulla interviewed for the Utah Jazz training activity this summer season, a place that in the long run went to Will Hardy — any other of Udoka’s assistants in Boston final season.

Mazzulla’s simplest earlier enjoy as a head coach is a two-year stint at Division II’s Fairmont State in West Virginia, the place he went 43-17 and made the NCAA event in his 2d season. A local New Englander from Rhode Island, Mazzulla performed at West Virginia, was once an assistant for the Celtics’ G League staff prior to taking on at Fairmont State, after which were given employed by way of the Celtics once more in June 2019 to be a part of Stevens’ body of workers.

Mazzulla’s final recreation at Fairmont State was once towards Mercyhurst. His first actual recreation with the Celtics will draw in slightly extra consideration: Boston is scheduled to host longtime rival Philadelphia within the opener, when they’ll tip off a year-long tribute to Hall of Famer Bill Russell.


Reynolds reported from Miami.


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