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Multiple NBA executives believe Ime Udoka won’t return as Celtics head coach after yearlong suspension

Ime Udoka
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics enjoyed a memorable 2021-22 season under head coach Ime Udoka, as the team reached the NBA Finals before losing to the Golden State Warriors in six games.

Udoka received lots of praise for the job he did and even received consideration for the league’s Coach of the Year award.

However, in one of the biggest stories of the NBA offseason, the Celtics decided last month to suspend the 45-year-old for the entire 2022-23 season due to violations of team policies.

Udoka, who is engaged to actress Nia Long, reportedly had an intimate relationship with a female member of the Celtics organization. The relationship was initially believed to be consensual, but it was later reported that Udoka made “unwanted comments” directed at the staffer.

NBA insiders Michael Scotto and Jared Weiss recently spoke about the situation and offered some insight into Udoka’s future with the Celtics.

“I spoke with four NBA executives this week about the Ime Udoka situation in Boston,” said Scotto. “Each of those four executives told HoopsHype they don’t think Udoka will return as coach of the Boston Celtics after his yearlong suspension is done.”

Weiss chimed in.

“That’s the consensus,” said Weiss. “I haven’t had anyone in the organization tell me they don’t think he’s coming back. I feel like they’re moving on with that expectation and that the reason for a suspension is more about whatever legal processes are happening right now rather than they genuinely want to reassess it in the future. I’m sure there is some degree of uncertainty whether or not they would bring him back. I don’t think it’s like he’s fired, and it’s set in stone, and that’s it. I’m sure there’s some evaluation that has to be done at some point, but it seems so unlikely that he would come back.”

It certainly seems like Udoka may have coached his final game for the Celtics.

Joe Mazzulla will lead the team in the upcoming season as Boston’s interim head coach. As the season gets going, the squad will look to recapture some of the magic it had during the 2021-22 campaign.

The Celtics did not look like threats in the Eastern Conference for a large chunk of last season, but they miraculously turned their season around after an 18-21 start. Boston finished the season with a 51-31 record before going on its deep playoff run.

There will likely be an adjustment period for the Celtics without Udoka, but young stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will surely do everything in their power to lead the team to success. Boston has one of the better rosters in the league and will look to make some noise again once the regular season begins.

The Celtics will open up their 2022-23 regular season on Oct. 18 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

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