Celtics Make Final Call On Ime Udoka Punishment: Report

Ime Udoka, Boston Celtics

Getty Ime Udoka, Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics have made their decision on Ime Udoka’s immediate future, according to a September 22 report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. 

“Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka is likely facing a suspension for the entire 2022-2023 season for his role in a consensual relationship with a female staff member, sources tell ESPN. A formal announcement is expected as soon as today,” Wojnarowski reported.

Currently, there is little detail surrounding what organizational rules Udoka has broken, or why he’s in line for such a significant suspension from the team. The little we do know so far has come from The Athletic’s Shams Charania, who reported that Udoka violated the Celtics franchise’s code of conduct with his actions.

“Celtics coach Ime Udoka had an improper intimate and consensual relationship with a female member of the team staff, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. It’s been deemed a violation of franchise’s code of conduct,” Charania tweeted.

Brad Stevens and the Celtics front office will now need to make a decision on who steps into the head coach role for the coming season, as their plans to win a championship will not have changed.

Joe Mazzulla Expected to Become Interim Head Coach

With Udoka being removed from the sidelines for the upcoming season, it appears that assistant coach Joe Mazzulla will be entrusted with leading the team moving forward.
“Assistant coach Joe Mazzulla is likely to become Boston’s interim coach for the season, sources tell ESPN,” Wojnarowski reported on September 20. 

Mazzulla has been with the Celtics since 2019 and has developed a strong relationship with the Celtics playing staff, most notably with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. We also saw Mazzulla displaying his coaching skills during the 2021 NBA Summer League, where he led Boston to the Summer League Finals before they lost to Davion Mitchell and the Sacramento Kings.

Still coaching an NBA team is a significant step up from coaching a Summer League roster, and Mazzulla will need to get the Celtics players to buy in to his methods and ideas quickly if Boston wants to get off to a better start than they did last season.

Brad Stevens Not Rushing New Additions

Beyond dealing with the current Udoka issues, Stevens is still responsible for finalizing the Celtics’ current roster, which is in need of some new additions following Danilo Gallinari’s ACL injury and Robert Williams undergoing a second surgery on his knee.

However, it seems as though Stevens is willing to play the long game here, and doesn’t see an upside in rushing out to sign the best available free agent – because his focus is more on team fit than individual talent, which makes perfect sense.

Speaking in a recent interview with the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn, Stevens shared his thoughts on how the team can improve and why he’s currently looking toward some of the younger talents that are fighting for a roster spot during training camp.

“We’re going back and forth on it. We don’t want to overreact to Rob’s [injury] just because it’s a short-term thing here. We feel good about some of the guys who have been in the gym for the last few weeks. We’ve had a bunch of guys in, a lot of the guys that have been added to the roster recently…We’re obviously super aware [of our need] but we want to make sure we add the right people. We can do that through guys who can make our team; we can do that through guys that are available as free agents and we can do that through trades down the road,” Stevens told Washburn during the interview.

Stevens has his hands full with the current issues surrounding the Celtics, and right now, it’s looking like the worst possible start for Boston, regardless of if they’re aiming for a championship or not.
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