Celtic coach Ime Udoka has been suspended for breaching team policy, a league source confirmed on Wednesday night. The source said discipline would be decided shortly, but declined to elaborate on Udoka’s situation.
The Athletic reported Thursday morning that Udoka, 45, had an inappropriately intimate and consensual relationship with a female teammate. Udoka has been engaged to actress Nia Long since 2015, and the couple has an 11-year-old son.
According to ESPN, the Celtics are considering a possible one-year suspension.
After a rocky start last season that saw the Celtics in danger of missing the playoffs, Udoka led the team to the NBA Finals in his first season as an NBA head coach and finished fourth in Coach of the Year voting. He has earned the trust and respect of his players through a disciplined approach built on accountability.
It’s unclear which Celtics assistant will fill in for Udoka if he’s suspended. Will Hardy, Boston’s lead assistant last season, would have been the obvious choice, but he was named the Jazz’s head coach in June. Ben Sullivan coached Boston’s Las Vegas Summer League team in July and was an assistant for the Bucks as they won the NBA title in 2021. Joe Mazzula, considered a superstar as a coach, was interviewed at Utah’s opening before eventually being promoted to a bench role. This summer on Udoka staff.
After winning two NBA titles last June, the Celtics drafted veterans Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari around first-team All-NBA Jayson Tatum. Boston went on to become the betting favorite to win the championship.
But the past few weeks have been brilliant.
Gallinari tore his ACL while playing for Italy in FIBA World Cup qualifying and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Then on Tuesday, the Celtics announced that Robert Williams, who missed a month last spring after tearing his meniscus, will undergo a second surgery on his left knee and will be out 4-6 weeks.
Now Udoka’s situation made things even more unstable. The Celtics are scheduled to hold a media day Monday before opening training camp Tuesday at the Auerbach Center.
Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter. @adamhimmelsbach.