Ime Udoka finalizing deal to become Celtics coach
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 Boston Celtics are finalizing an agreement to hire Brooklyn Nets assistant Ime Udoka as the franchise's new coach, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 23, 2021
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.
Ime Udoka’s experience coaching Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart a couple years ago in Team USA was significant in his hiring.
“Those guys all liked him and respected him,” one source told me. “He’s an easy guy to connect with.”
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) June 23, 2021
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.