Celtics suspend coach Ime Udoka for entire 2022-23 season over ‘violations of team policies’

The Boston Celtics have suspended coach Ime Udoka for the entire 2022-23 season for “violation of team policies”, the franchise announced Thursday. Udoka’s suspension begins immediately and the Celtics will make a decision on his future beyond this season at a later date.

Assistant coach Joe Mazzulla would serve as interim coach, according to ESPN. The Celtics press release announcing Udoka’s suspension contained no idea of ​​who would take over the team.

Udoka released a personal statement following Boston’s announcement: “I want to apologize to our players, our fans, the entire Celtics organization and my family for letting them down. I “I’m sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation and I accept the team’s decision. Out of respect for everyone involved, I have no further comment.”

The reason for Udoka’s suspension is an alleged consensual but inappropriate relationship with a team staff member, Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Wednesday. Udoka has considered resigning from his post, according to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix; however, he reportedly decided not to resign.

Boston hired Udoka last June after Brad Stevens, Udoka’s predecessor, took over as team president. The Celtics started 23-24 under Udoka but dominated the rest of the regular season winning 28 of their last 35 games. They finished with the best defense in the NBA and advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010. Boston ultimately lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.

Prior to joining the Celtics, Udoka was an assistant coach for nine seasons, moving seven San Antonio Spurs staff from Gregg Popovich before year-long stints with Brett Brown on the Philadelphia 76ers and Steve Nash on the Brooklyn Nets.

Mazzulla was an assistant coach under Udoka and Stevens, having been hired by then-president Danny Ainge in 2019. Earlier this offseason, he interviewed for the open head coaching position of the Utah Jazz, which eventually went to former Celtics assistant coach Will Hardy. Subsequently, Boston promoted Mazzulla to a top role, according to the Boston Globe.

In 2013-14, Mazzulla began his coaching career as an assistant at Fairmont State. He left after three years to join the Celtics’ G League affiliate, then known as the Maine Red Claws, for a year. He returned to Fairmont State where he coached for two years, leading the team to a 43-17 record and a first-round exit from the 2019 NCAA Division II Tournament.

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