What’s going on in Boston?
Celtics head coach Imae Oduka will likely be suspended for the 2022-23 season due to an inappropriately intimate and consensual relationship with a female member of the team’s staff, according to multiple reports. Then, Sports Illustrated reported that the 45-year-old, who led the Celtics to the NBA Finals last season, was considering resigning in the wake of the scandal.
Not so fast.
It seams Udoka will not step downAccording to league sources, TNT’s Chris Haynes, who reported hours later that the Warriors coach will not resign as he awaits sanctions from the organization.
As if the whole situation wasn’t already messed up enough.
Whether Udoka is suspended for the entire season or eventually leaves, it’s been a stunning turn of events for one of the league’s brightest young coaches. However, if he were to resign, the impact on Boston, which he has yet to even comment on, would destroy the franchise. Last season, the Celtics reached the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010, in what was Udoka’s first season as a head coach anywhere.
Before joining Boston, he was an assistant for nine years, the first seven under Gregg Popovich of the Spurs, followed by a year as part of Brett Brown’s staff with the Sixers and then Steve Nash with the Nets.
In June 2021, the Celtics signed Udoka after Brad Stevens came off the bench as team president. Although Boston was one game under .500 in Udoka’s first 47 games, the team caught fire and won 28 of its final 35 regular season games thanks in large part to the league’s best defense led by Marcus Smart. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown also flourished under Udoka.
The Celtics eventually made it to the Finals and lost to the Warriors in 6 games.
If Udoka, who has been in a relationship with actress Nia Long since 2010, quit after news of the relationship broke, it would have been a major setback for the franchise. In his absence, current assistant Joe Mazzola is expected to take over as interim head coach.
However, the Celtics will be without the coach who led them over the precipice that was their first championship since 2008 — for exactly how long is unclear.