Nets Assistant Ime Udoka Nears Deal to Coach the Celtics

Ime Udoka, who was an assistant for the Nets this season, is nearing an settlement to change into the subsequent head coach of the Boston Celtics, an individual acquainted with the discussions however not licensed to focus on them publicly stated on Wednesday.

Udoka spent seven years as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs below Gregg Popovich and one season as an assistant in Philadelphia earlier than coming to the Nets. He additionally performed in the N.B.A. as a reserve for seven years, together with spurts with the Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers and three seasons with the Spurs.

The information of the impending hiring was first reported by ESPN.

This shall be the second high-profile transfer made by the new Celtics group president, Brad Stevens, who was unexpectedly thrust into the function this month. His predecessor, Danny Ainge, stepped down after the Nets knocked the Celtics out of the playoffs in the first spherical.

Stevens had coached the group for the final eight years, however this season had been a very tumultuous one for the Celtics, who had been besieged by accidents and an ill-fitting roster that lacked depth. Boston’s finest participant, the All-Star Jayson Tatum, additionally handled lingering results from Covid-19. After making the Eastern Conference finals in 2019-20, the Celtics had to battle simply to get into the playoffs and completed the season at 36-36.

Udoka, 43, will inherit a group centered on two All-Star wings, Tatum and Jaylen Brown. In his first main transfer as group president, Stevens final week traded Kemba Walker, who was the group’s place to begin guard, and Boston’s 2021 first-round decide to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Al Horford and Moses Brown, an up-and-coming heart. The transfer elevated the Celtics’ monetary flexibility.

At the information convention asserting his promotion, Stevens stated of the teaching search: “I think that the good news about whoever we hire, they don’t have to fill Doc Rivers’s shoes like I did, and they don’t have to fill Danny Ainge’s shoes now like I do. The good news is they have to figure out a way to be better than the last guy.”

Udoka, who’s Nigerian American, will change into the sixth Black coach in the history of the franchise. The others were Rivers (2004-13), M.L. Carr (1995-97), K.C. Jones (1983-88), Tom Sanders (1978) and Bill Russell (1966-69).

In a league that has been criticized for predominantly hiring white coaches, even though more than 70 percent of players are Black, Udoka will be one of nine nonwhite head coaches. (This does not include Nate McMillan, who is Black and the interim head coach of the Atlanta Hawks.) Udoka will be coaching in a city that was once again in the spotlight for its treatment of Black athletes, during this year’s playoffs. Kyrie Irving, who played for the Celtics from 2017 to 2019, suggested that he had heard racist comments from fans during his time in Boston and said that he hoped he wouldn’t hear them as a member of the Nets.

There are six other head coaching vacancies across the league, in Portland, Orlando, Indiana, New Orleans, Washington and Dallas.

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