BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Celtics have suspended coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season, efficient instantly, and there’s no assure he’ll return to the franchise.
“A choice on his future with the Celtics past this season shall be made at a later date,” the Celtics stated.
Udoka apologized in a press release to ESPN, however didn’t elaborate.
“I need to apologize to the gamers, the followers, your entire Celtics group and household for letting them down. I remorse placing the workforce in such a tough state of affairs and settle for the workforce’s resolution. Out of respect for all concerned, I cannot remark additional,” he stated.
Celtics assistant coach Joe Mazzulla will serve on an interim foundation, one particular person the AP spoke with stated.
Mazzulla interviewed for the Utah Jazz teaching job this summer time, a place that went to Will Hardy, one other of Udoka’s assistants in Boston final season. Udoka’s different assistant coaches have been Damon Stoudemire, Ben Sullivan, Aaron Miles and Tony Dobbins.
Udoka had a stellar first season with the Celtics, ending the common season 51-31, going 26-6 of their final 32 video games, main Boston, Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Miami to the NBA Finals. The Celtics misplaced the championship collection to the Golden State Warriors in 6 video games.
Dropping Udoka could be a serious blow to a workforce that’s among the many favorites to compete for the NBA title this season.
The incident echoes the yr in 2020 when Pink Sox supervisor Alex Cora was suspended for a yr by Main League Baseball for his involvement in a signal-stealing scandal at his earlier job with the Houston Astros. As an alternative, the events parted methods.
After a last-place end underneath Ron Roenick in a pandemic-shortened season, Cora was rehired a yr later and accepted once more.
It’s unclear whether or not Udoka will comply with this path.
Udoka, 45, spent most of his NBA profession with San Antonio and later labored with and assisted Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. Udoka was with Spurs from 2012 to 2019 and it did not take lengthy for him to turn out to be one of many names that tended to look on the listing of candidates when the pinnacle teaching job opened up.
He spent the 2019-20 season in Philadelphia and the 2020-21 season in Brooklyn, earlier than the Celtics employed him in June 2021 as Brad Stevens’ successor and moved right into a entrance workplace position.
“The longer term is vivid, we’re simply getting began,” Udoka stated after the NBA Finals.
The Celtics will maintain a media day on Monday, the place coaches, gamers and officers will meet with reporters, earlier than opening coaching camp on Tuesday. The absence of Udoka, who completed fourth in NBA Coach of the 12 months voting final season, will overshadow what may have been a extremely anticipated begin to the season.
This provides to the massive issues at first of membership coaching.
Boston made some massive strikes early within the offseason, buying Malcolm Brogdon in a commerce from Indiana, bolstering an already sturdy backcourt, after which including sharpshooting veteran ahead Danilo Gallinari as a free agent.
However Gallinari tore the ACL in his left knee final month and can miss the upcoming season. Middle Robert Williams, a key a part of Boston’s protection after coping with a knee downside throughout final season’s playoffs, is out for the season.
The Celtics have been additionally named in commerce hypothesis surrounding Brooklyn ahead Kevin Durant, a perennial All-Star the Nets wished to maneuver, solely to have the request withdrawn weeks later. Large gamers like Jaylen Brown have been wanted to land Durant, and commerce discuss may solid doubt on their futures in Boston.
Mazzulla’s solely head teaching expertise was a two-year stint at Division II West Virginia State Fairmont State, the place he went 43-17 and made the NCAA Match in his second straight season. A local of Rhode Island and native of New England, Mazzulla performed school basketball at West Virginia and was an assistant with the Celtics within the G League earlier than taking up at Fairmont State earlier than re-hiring the Celtics in June 2019. A part of Stevens’ workers.
Mazzulla performed its final recreation at Fairmont State towards Mercyhurst. His first actual recreation with the Celtics shall be a little bit extra crowded and watched — Oct. 18 in Boston towards Philadelphia within the first recreation of the brand new NBA season.
It is the second main disciplinary state of affairs within the NBA in as many weeks, after Commissioner Adam Silver suspended Phoenix Suns and WNBA Phoenix Mercury proprietor Robert Sarver for one yr and fined him $10 million final week. The investigation revealed his habits within the office, together with abusive and racially charged language. Sarver introduced Wednesday that he intends to promote the workforce.