The Boston Celtics are finalizing an agreement to make Ime Udoka their next head coach, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday afternoon. The Celtics promoted former head coach Brad Stevens to take over as President of Basketball Ops for Danny Ainge, who retired from the team. Stevens as President and GM helped bring in his replacement in Udoka, who spent this past season as an assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets.
Udoka has had a very impressive career as an assistant, working under San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich from 2012-2019. Udoka briefly joined the Philadelphia 76ers as an assistant under Brett Brown, who was also an assistant for the Spurs under Pop. Udoka comes from the Popovich tree of coaching, which has been a popular branch for teams hiring head coaches.
The Portland, Oregon native had a very extensive playing career spanning 2000-2012, where Udoka played for teams like the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Spurs and Sacramento Kings, as well as internationally in Spain. Udoka had been looked at for head coaching positions before joining the Nets in 2020 before the start of this season.
This is an excellent hire by the Celtics, who have a roster that really doesn’t need too much work with players who are seasoned while also being youthful. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are both All-Stars who have played in the postseason almost instantly after being drafted. The Celtics, on top of Tatum, Brown and Marcus Smart, have some promising prospects in Robert Williams and Payton Pritchard. Udoka won’t need to do much developing, but if he can turn Williams into a strong post presence to compliment Tatum and Brown, it could get the Celtics back in contention in the East.