The Boston Celtics‘ wild week just got a little bit wilder. However, the team’s direction is now clearer than it has been in some time as a result.
Entering the offseason, the team’s new president of basketball operations, Brad Stevens, had two directives — retool the roster and hire his own replacement as head coach. The first phase of that plan began in earnest on Friday when Stevens traded Kemba Walker for Al Horford and Moses Brown.
Now, just five days later, the second major domino looks to have fallen.
According to a breaking report, Stevens and the Celtics have settled on a new head coach.
The latest Celtics news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Celtics newsletter here!
Woj: Celtics Hire Ime Udoka as Head Coach
Per a Twitter report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics are finalizing a deal with Brooklyn Nets assistant Ime Udoka to become their next head coach. The 43-year-old helped the Nets to 48-24 record this past season.
Wojnarowski noted that Udoka’s many years on NBA benches may have been a significant factor in Stevens’ decision to hire him.
“Stevens was believed to value Udoka’s extensive experience as an assistant with Spurs, Sixers and Nets,” he tweeted. “Udoka had developed into a top head coaching candidate in this cycle, and seemed destined to get a job. He’s getting one with the Celtics that includes two young All-Stars.”
After several years in the Association as a player, it was Gregg Popovich who convinced Udoka to eschew an offer to continue playing in Spain and transition into a coaching career in 2012. He subsequently spent the next seven years on the Spurs’ bench, winning a championship with the franchise in 2014.
He would join fellow Popovich apprentice Brett Brown as the Sixers’ lead assistant for the 2019-20 campaign before making the move to Brooklyn for the ’20-21 campaign.
Udoka had frequently been mentioned as a head coaching candidate in years past.
Udoka’s Playing Career
Despite going undrafted in 2000, Udoka earned a spot in the league, playing in more than 300 career games over seven NBA seasons before getting into the coaching game. Along the way, the Portland, Oregon native averaged 5.2 points and 2.9 rebounds in 18.1 minutes per contest while suiting up for five different teams.
He was primarily a 3-and-D specialist, hitting on almost 36% of his career three-point attempts.
The high-water mark for Udoka’s playing career came with the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2006-07 season. That year, he appeared in 75 games (all starts) for the Blazers, putting up 8.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game while connecting on 40.6% of his three-pointers.
Udoka moved on to San Antonio the following season and would play three of his final four years with the Spurs.
As Udoka is of Akwa Ibom descent on his father’s side, he qualified for Nigerian citizenship and was able to play for the country’s senior national team as well. He represented Nigeria in two AfroBasket tournaments (capturing Bronze medals both times), and also at the 2006 FIBA World Championships.