Celtics coach Udoka faces a suspension for violating team policy, a league source confirmed Wednesday night. Discipline could be decided soon, the sources said, but declined to elaborate on Udoka’s situation.
The Athletic reported Thursday morning that Udoka, 45, had an inappropriate intimacy and a consensual relationship with a women’s team staff member. Udoka has been engaged to actress Nia Long since 2015, and they have an 11-year-old son.
According to ESPN, the Celtics are considering a one-year suspension.
After a rocky start last season when the Celtics seemed likely to miss the playoffs, Udoka led the team to the NBA Finals in his first season as an NBA head coach and finished in the NBA Finals. 4th in the coaches vote. His tough, disciplined style based on a sense of responsibility has earned him the trust and respect of his players.
It’s unclear which Celtics assistant will fill Udoka’s vacancy if he is suspended. Will Hardy, Boston’s lead assistant last season, would have been the obvious choice, but in June he was named head coach of the Jazz. Ben Sullivan coached Boston’s Las Vegas Summer League team in July and served as an assistant when the Bucks win the NBA championship in 2021. Joe Mazura, seen as a rising star among coaches, was interviewed in Utah’s opening game before eventually being promoted to a backup role on Udoka’s staff this summer.
After a two-game winning streak last June, the Celtics added veterans Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari to their young, talented roster centered around an All-NBA team. Built by rookie Jayson Tatum. Boston then became the favorites to win the title.
But the past few weeks have been bumpy.
Gallinari tore his ACL while representing Italy in a FIBA World Cup qualifier and is expected to miss the entire season. Then on Tuesday, the Celtics announced that center Robert Williams, who was sidelined for a month after tearing his meniscus last spring, would undergo a second left knee surgery and be sidelined for 4-6 weeks.
Now, Udoka’s situation has made things even more precarious. The Celtics are scheduled to hold a media day on Monday before opening training camp at the Auerbach Center on Tuesday.
Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org him on twitter @adamhimmelsbach.