Boston Celtics to hire Ime Udoka: Brooklyn Nets assistant to be named new coach, per report – CBSSports.com
The Boston Celtics found their guy. After an extensive search, the Celtics have filled their coaching vacancy as the club is finalizing an agreement to hire Brooklyn Nets assistant Ime Udoka as their new head coach, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. In addition to working as an assistant with the Nets last season, Udoka also previously served as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs (from 2012-2019) and the Philadelphia 76ers (2019-2020).
In Boston, Udoka will serve as the successor to Brad Stevens, who coached the team from 2013 through this past season. Stevens has since moved into Boston’s front office, and he was responsible for hiring his own replacement. Apparently, he considers Udoka the right guy for the job. Udoka’s vast experience as an assistant, along with the fact that Celtics players were impressed with him after playing for him on the U.S. national team in the 2019 World Cup tournament, were major factors in his hiring, per Wojnarowski. Other candidates for the job included Chauncey Billups, Darvin Ham, Jason Kidd and Lloyd Pierce.
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In addition to his coaching credentials, Udoka also has ample experience as a player. After going undrafted in 2002, Udoka spent time as a player with five different franchises — the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings. In Boston, Udoka will look to lead the Celtics back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010. The fact that he has two young All-Stars on the roster in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown should certainly help his cause.
The situation in Boston is a unique one, as it’s not every day that a long-tenured coach is tabbed with identifying and hiring his own replacement. Stevens just moved into his new role as president of basketball operations earlier this month following Danny Ainge’s retirement, but he feels that his experience as the coach of the Celtics made him uniquely qualified to successfully select the team’s next coach.
“I do think I have a good insight into our team as Danny now steps away,” Stevens said at the beginning of the month. “I feel like I’ve got a good idea of what we do well, what we don’t do so well, and I’ve been doing this for eight years. I’ve been in that locker room with some of those guys for a long time. … They’ll get to play for a great coach, with some similarities maybe, but also some great new fresh perspectives. That’s a good thing, so I’m looking forward to finding that person.”
Udoka, 43, clearly fit the mold that Stevens was looking for. Only time will tell if the move was the right one for the Celtics, but on paper it sure seems to be, as Udoka is very well respected and was one of the most promising head-coaching candidates available.