Longtime Assistant, Former Player Odds-On Favorite for Celtics HC Job

Ime Udoka Spurs Celtics

Getty San Antonio Spurs coaches Gregg Popovich, Ime Udoka and Becky Hammon look on during a 2018 game against the Indiana Pacers.

For a team that is currently sitting at home while the 2021 NBA Playoffs are heating up, there sure is a lot going on in Boston Celtics-land right now. Kemba Walker’s future in Beantown continues to be a hot topic all over the hoops blogosphere. Meanwhile, pundits and armchair GMs alike have also begun to weigh the merits of trading All-Star forward Jaylen Brown.

That said, while roster upgrades and trade machine musings are always attention-grabbers, the Celtics’ ongoing head coaching search may be the biggest story in Beantown.

After making the sudden transition from the sidelines to the team’s front office, Celtics GM Brad Stevens has the unenviable task of selecting his own replacement. The stakes for doing so are incredibly high, too, after the team logged a disappointing 36-36 record and was subsequently dispatched in the first round of postseason play.

In short, it’s a hire Stevens has to get right. However, questions remain about just who the right person for the job actually is.

In any case, a major sportsbook seemingly has its own ideas about which of the myriad candidates will ultimately land the job.

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Ime Udoka Is the Current Favorite for Celtics’ Job

On Friday, BetOnline released its updated odds for who will claim the Cs open head-coaching job. And while a number of familiar names appeared on its list, a highly-regarded, longtime assistant and former 3-and-D specialist occupied the favorite’s position.

Namely, former San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and current Brooklyn Nets assistant Ime Udoka.

Udoka is currently listed at listed at +550; per Boston.com, that gives him an implied probability of just 15.4%. However, he is still edging out L.A. Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups and Duke Blue Devils women’s basketball coach Kara Lawson, who were both listed at +600.

Earlier this week, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Stevens had received permission to speak with Udoka and a number of other assistants around the Association about the job.

Elsewhere on BetOnline’s list, longtime Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga came in at +650, while former Celtics point guard and current Philadelphia 76ers staffer Sam Cassell has odds of +800.

Udoka’s Career at a Glance

Before joining the coaching ranks, the 43-year-old Udoka spent parts of seven seasons as a player in the NBA with five different teams. Over 316 career games, he averaged 5.2 points and 2.9 rebounds in just 18.1 minutes per contest. He also knocked down almost 36% of his three-point attempts.

His best year as a player came during the 2006-07 campaign with the Portland Trail Blazers when he started in 75 games for the team, logged an 8-4-2 line and connected on 40.6% of his triples. However, he may be best known for his three years with the San Antonio Spurs.

It was there that he became a favorite of legendary coach Gregg Popovich, who convinced him to transition to the coaching ranks in 2012. Udoka went on to spend the next seven years on the Spurs’ bench, winning a title with the team in 2014.

He later joined fellow Popovich disciple Brett Brown as the Sixers’ lead assistant for the 2019-20 campaign before making the move to Brooklyn for the ’20-21 season.

Udoka has been oft-mentioned as a possible head coaching candidate in recent years, but this offseason may represent his best shot yet at actually landing a job.


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