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#pounditFriday, July 23, 2021

Ime Udoka finalizing deal to become Celtics coach

Ime Udoka

The Boston Celtics appear to be the first team to fill their head coaching vacancy, and they’re going with a top NBA assistant to fill the role.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics are finalizing a deal to make Brooklyn Nets assistant Ime Udoka their new head coach.

The 43-year-old Udoka had a journeyman NBA career, spending seven seasons in the league primarily as a reserve. His coaching career has been much more successful. He started it as an assistant to Gregg Popovich in San Antonio before assistant stints with the 76ers and Nets. He’s been rumored as a future head coach before, and was heavily linked to the Chicago Bulls job last offseason before Billy Donovan became available and got the position instead.

Notably, Udoka was also one of Popovich’s assistants for Team USA at the 2019 World Cup, where he received rave reviews. He worked with key Celtics Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart in that job, and it played a significant role in his hiring in Boston, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman.

Udoka replaces Brad Stevens, who was elevated to team president and is the one making this hire. It sounds like Udoka will have some work to do in the Boston locker room, but he has a strong resume as an assistant and has long been groomed for a big job like this one.

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