Within an hour of the Nets parting ways with head coach Steve Nash, multiple news breakers around the NBA reported Brooklyn was fast-tracking the hiring of suspended Celtics coach Ime Udoka to take over their suddenly vacant job.
Six days later, the Nets have yet to hire a full-time coach, leaving veteran Jacque Vaughn to run the show for now (the Nets have won their last two). Now comes a report from Marc Stein that forces are pushing back on the Nets hiring Udoka.
League sources say there have been some "strong voices" urging Joe Tsai to back off the Nets' intent to hire suspended Celtics coach Ime Udoka as Steve Nash's successor given the considerable turmoil Brooklyn has already faced this season.
More to come: https://t.co/LGN9cVpMwn
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) November 7, 2022
Who are those strong voices? We’re just speculating, but the logical first guess is NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who has been talking to Nets owner Joe Tsai as the Irving situation spiraled (Silver pushed for the Nets to suspend Irving earlier). Don’t be surprised if one of those voices is also Clara Wu, the wife of Tsai and an activist on social justice issues.
For the Nets, hiring Udoka makes basketball sense but would be a public relations disaster — one they would have to deal with in the wake of Kyrie Irving‘s public relations firestorm.
On the court, Udoka is a former Nets assistant respected and liked by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (and the buzz around the league is he is the coach Durant wants). Udoka’s no-nonsense style and willingness to hold players — including stars — accountable is something the Nets could use. He’s also a defensive-minded coach, which is the end of the court where the Nets are struggling most.
But would that be worth the massive public relations hit?
Udoka was suspended for the season by the Celtics in the wake of his actions surrounding an inappropriate relationship with a team staffer. While all the details of the Boston investigation have not been made public, the situation is serious enough that the Celtics suspended the coach who brought the team together and took them to the Finals last season. It was serious.
If the Nets hire Udoka, there will be serious backlash — what does it say to the women in the Nets’ organization? Does the NBA put winning ahead of its values? The Nets will have tough questions to answer, and Udoka would have to answer questions as well.
The Nets hiring Udoka would have a sense of desperation around it — this is a team spending big to win now that is off to a rough 4-6 start. Speculation about the future of Durant in Brooklyn is floating around the league. Hiring Udoka would be a big swing to try and right the ship, one of the few in-season moves the Nets could realistically make. However, it would come with a price — one some “strong voices” are urging the Nets not to pay.