Ime Udoka, the coach who helped the Boston Celtics find their identity and ride it to the NBA Finals in his first season, has been suspended from the team and will not coach in the 2022-23 season.
The Celtics went on record saying that the suspension was due to a “violation of team policy”. Many reports state that the violation was an inappropriate intimate relationship with a Celtics employee, which led to her filing complaints against Udoka with the organization.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 23, 2022
“I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization and my family for letting them down. I regret putting the team in such a difficult position and I accept the team’s decision. Out of respect for all the members, I won’t comment.”
Despite rumors that he could, Udoka did not retire. Whether he will return to the Celtics or not in the coming years is not yet decided, he was not given a guarantee that he would be returned.
It’s not news to the NBA, Gersson Rosas was fired as CEO of the Timberwolves for having an extramarital affair with a female employee from Minnesota last year (among other things).
Assistant head coach Joe Mazzulla will reportedly be asked to run the Celtics (Boston lost its top assistant last season, Will Hardy, who took over as head coach with the Utah Jazz). That’s a lot for a 34-year-old coach, a rising star in the industry – he was interviewing for a job in the jazz industry this summer – who has found himself in the spotlight. The Celtics will also be left without a center. Robert Williams to start the season as he had another knee operation and they lost the striker’s reserve Danilo Gallinari to a torn ACL.
The Celtics’ decision to hit Udoka hard followed the situation with Robert Sarver in Phoenix. There, the franchise owner’s behavior – and the league’s light punishment – caused significant backlash, with players speaking out and sponsors beginning to pull back (Sarver announced he would sell the team).
Udok, who came out of the Spurs/Gregg Popovich coaching tree, was handpicked by Brad Stevens to replace him on the bench when Stevens jumped into the front office. It took half a season and a few personnel changes, but the Celtics eventually believed what Udoka was preaching to them, finished the season 26-6, and carried that momentum into the playoffs.
The Celtics enter this season as one of the title favorites, but now they have a coaching question to answer in the East that’s relentless with the Bucks, 66ers, Heat, Nets and more.
Media Day, arguably the most boring and tiring day on the NBA calendar, took place anywhere but Brooklyn.
after summer Kyrie Irving admitted that it was “very embarrassing” – where he and Kevin Duran pushed for the trade, and Durant issued an ultimatum, saying that it was either him or coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks all back under the same roof and trying to stick to the idea that they just wanted to win.
But the drama will follow this team like a dark cloud until they force the conversation to be about something else. For example, how many games they won.
In the meantime, there will be awkward questions and moments. For example, why Kevin Durant asked for a trade this summer? What did he want to change? He spoke about the instability of the team last season. So it was (for various reasons).
“My whole thing was that I wanted everyone to be responsible for their basketball habits. I think a lot of things got swept under the carpet because we got hurt, or this guy isn’t around, or just the circumstances. I thought we could wrestle with it a little more and focus a little more on the guys that were here.
“You know, when I went out with an injury, we lost 10 in a row. And I think we shouldn’t lose some of these games that we’ve lost, no matter who’s on the court. So I was more concerned about how we get through every day as a basketball team. And I felt like we could handle a lot of things that I thought were holding us back.”
KD says you earn respect for the way you work and “last year we skipped some steps.” #networks
— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) September 26, 2022
These are the best non-drama answers he could give. But Durant still loves to chat on Twitter and did so later that day.
It’s because of this shit that I don’t like to talk to dumb people like you. That’s not the question he asked, but you love the engagement on twitter, so you’ll ruin everything. https://t.co/nXOnu2jd9v
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) September 26, 2022
(This was a question asked, but both the question and Durant’s answer had a lot more context, it wasn’t a confrontational answer at the moment.)
Kyrie Irving said he had options this summer, albeit limited, because he’s not vaccinated. He also talked about his reasons for wanting to return to the Nets.
Kyrie Irving on whether other teams have opportunities for him in the offseason: “Yes. Yeah. There were options, but not many because of that stigma or whether I want to play or whether I’m committed or not.”
— Chris Millholen (@CMilholenSB) September 26, 2022
Kairi: There was some level of uncertainty about what it would look like when I got back and I had questions. They were given truthful answers, and that’s all I needed … I turned down 160 million dollars in four years, choosing not to get vaccinated, and there was a solution.
— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) September 26, 2022
Marks handled the inevitable “did your star want you fired” questions as best he could, at one point saying “this is a professional sport.”
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I think it’s not from us to be angry at what Kevin said, but to say a little: “Okay, if he thinks so, what’s going on here?” For example, what do we need to change?” Marx said.
In the end, everyone was talking about moving forward and the potential of this lineup. Duran is not disappointed with his return.
“I was not disappointed. I still love to play. I knew it wouldn’t make a difference no matter what happened this summer,” Durant said.
The Nets have the talent to contend for the title, but over the past couple of years they have more questions than any other team of their stature: can Duran stay healthy? Will Irving be focused and dedicated all season long? How Ben Simmons suitable and what is its role? Will their thin front zone withstand them? Will they play enough defensively? Will Steve Nash be up to the task? Does this team have the desire and desire to be rivals?
Going through the drama is the only way to answer all of these questions, but if they do, this team could be a powerful engine.
The Golden State Warriors will enter the season with the era’s fourth banner and hand out championship rings, but this team has more questions than most returning champions.
Otto Porter as well as Gary Payton II gone and their minutes will go to the young core – Jordan Pool, Moses Moody, Jonathan Cuminga, James Wiseman who will be asked to carry the larger load. Especially during the regular season.
Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area joins NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin on the Warriors’ upcoming season, what to expect, and whether the young core can take the older veterans into the playoffs rested and ready to defend their title. There’s also talk of what’s next at Golden State as some kind of hard contract…