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Report: Celtics head coach Ime Udoka likely to be suspended for entire 2022-23 season

Ime Udoka
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka is reportedly likely to be suspended for the entire 2022-23 season in the wake of news regarding his relationship with a female Celtics employee.

Additional details on the punishment have yet to be disclosed, though an announcement could come as early as Thursday. Despite the violation, he’s not expected to be fired by the Celtics.

Udoka was hired as Boston’s head coach after Brad Stevens was moved into the role of president of basketball operations for the Celtics last year.

A Successful First Season

During his first season as Boston’s head coach, Udoka guided the team to the 2022 Eastern Conference title. However, in the 2022 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, the Celtics fell in six games.

That drive to the NBA Finals was marked by a tremendous turnaround that arguably began after a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Jan. 21. At that point, the Celtics had a 23-24 record, but over the remainder of the campaign, they compiled a 28-7 record.

Once the playoffs began, the Celtics swept the Brooklyn Nets in four games. That was followed by victories in back-to-back seven-game series against the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat.

Udoka played seven seasons in the NBA, with his last season coming in the 2010-11 campaign. Beginning in the 2012-13 season, he spent seven seasons as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs.

Udoka then spent one season apiece with the Philadelphia 76ers and Nets before being hired by the Celtics.

Joe Mazzulla’s Background

If Mazzulla does indeed take over for Udoka, it will mark his first time in the role of head coach for an NBA team. The 34-year-old Mazzulla has served the past three seasons as an assistant for the Celtics.

Mazzulla played collegiately at West Virginia University. In 145 games over five years with the Mountaineers, he started 25 contests.

After graduating from college, Mazzulla entered the coaching ranks, staying within the boundaries of West Virginia. He began as an assistant at Glenville State University and followed that with a stint as an assistant at Fairmont State University.

Mazzulla then served as an assistant for the Celtics’ G League affiliate, then known as the Maine Red Claws, before being named head coach at Fairmont State in 2017.

In 2019, the Celtics hired him as an assistant coach.

The timing of Udoka’s rumored suspension comes shortly before the Celtics and other NBA teams are set to begin their respective training camps.

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