The Boston Celtics have suspended coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season due to a reported consensual but improper intimate relationship with a Celtics staff member.
It’s a bold decision that came together quickly, and in the wake of it there has been a wave of information and questions. Here are just a few of the topics around the Udoka suspension.
• While the relationship between Udoka and the staffer was consensual, it was not always smooth and that may have led to how this quickly became an issue for the Celtics, as reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Some members of the Celtics organization first became aware of the relationship in July, sources said. At that time, team leadership was led to believe by both parties that the relationship was consensual. But sources said that the woman recently accused Udoka of making unwanted comments toward her — leading the team to launch a set of internal interviews.
• Celtics legend Paul Pierce came in with the take that the franchise came down too hard on Udoka — and then he got hammered on Twitter for that take.
It should just be a fine not a suspension 🤷🏾♂️
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) September 22, 2022
• Udoka’s future with the Celtics remains unclear, both whether they ask him to return and whether he will want to. However, Udoka will have options — when other coaching positions open up during the next year, expect those teams to reach out to Udoka to gauge his interest, something Adrian Wojnarowski emphasized on ESPN.
• While he is not a household name with fans, new interim/head coach Joe Mazzulla is popular with Celtics’ players. Here is what Jayson Tatum had to say about him last spring, via Chris Forsberg at NBC Sports Boston.
“I love Joe,” said Tatum. “I think just being around him … you could tell how passionate he is about the guys and his craft. He’s gotten so much more knowledgeable, more detailed, just vocal. More comfortable in his role as a coach. You’ve seen a growth from his first year.
“He’s helped me out tremendously as a player and as a person. I can’t say enough good things about Joe. Everybody appreciates him, what he brings to this team. I’m glad that we have him.”
There is also this from Fox Sports.
The players took to him,” said Scott Morrison, a Celtics assistant at the time and Mazzulla’s head coach during his time with the Red Claws. “He tells them what it is without being abrasive and in my experience, players like that. They like being coached.”
• He may be well liked, but Mazzulla, 34, is being thrown into the deep end — his only head coaching experience was at Fairmont State in West Virginia, a Division II school. That could have the Celtics looking to bring in an experienced, veteran NBA coach as an assistant to Mazzulla. One name to watch: Frank Vogel, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.
• The Celtics media day is Monday, followed by the start of training camp the next day. The Celtics open the season on Oct. 18 against the Philadelphia 76ers.