According to Gilbert Arenas, it’s highly unlikely Udoka returns to the Celtics sidelines, and just as unlikely that we see him return as a head coach in the league.
“I don’t think no one is gonna f*** with him anymore because of what is possibly still out there,” Arenas said regarding Udoka’s coaching future during a December 23 appearance on Vlad TV.
In his first year as the Celtics’ head coach, Udoka took Boston to the NBA Finals, along with instilling a defensive mentality that saw his team become the best defensive team in the NBA throughout the regular season – ranking top of the league for defensive rating throughout 82 games.
Under Udoka’s tutelage, we also saw Jayson Tatum become an All-NBA selection, Marcus Smart win Defensive Player of the Year (making him the first guard since Gary Payton to do so), and Robert Williams become an All-Defensive second-team selection. As such, Udoka was developing a reputation as both one of the best young coaches in the league and an elite player development coach.
Ime Udoka Should Have Been Fired, Per Source
On November 1, Heavy On Sports NBA Insider Steve Bulpett released an article that provided some insight into how other members of the NBA viewed the Udoka situation from afar, with one source stating that Boston’s decision to suspend their head coach instead of firing him was a mistake.
“But he was never going to coach the Celtics again, and everybody knew it. C’mon. You weren’t going to bring him back. You were never going to bring him back. I thought it was a mistake to suspend him. If they had enough to suspend him, they should have just fired him and gotten it over with,” The source told Bulpett.
Currently, Udoka is still under contract with Boston and could return to his position as head coach in the 2023-24 season; however, given the Celtics’ hot start and the job Joe Mazzulla has done since taking the reigns on an interim basis, Udoka’s return is looking more and more improbable by the day.
Brooklyn Nets ‘Urged’ Not To Sign Ime Udoka
In November, the Brooklyn Nets parted ways with Steve Nash and began the search for a new head coach. Rumors quickly began to surface that Brooklyn had contacted Boston to test the waters on Udoka’s availability.
However, according to a November 6 report by Marc Stein, there were some ‘strong voices’ imploring Brooklyn’s Joe Tsai to avoid acquiring Udoka, given the amount of negative media the Nets had received throughout the past 12 months.
“League sources say there have been some “strong voices” urging Joe Tsai to back off the Nets’ intent to hire suspended Celtics coach Ime Udoka as Steve Nash’s successor given the considerable turmoil Brooklyn has already faced this season,” Stein Tweeted.
The Nets eventually decided to hire Jacques Vaughn as their new head coach, leaving Udoka to continue his team-imposed suspension while also leaving his coaching future in doubt. And, according to a December 23 press conference by Brad Stevens, the Celtics are yet to discuss Udoka’s future beyond the current season, which means we probably won’t learn of Boston’s long-term head coaching plans until after the current season reaches it’s conclusion.