The Boston Celtics offseason has officially descended into chaos. After some solid hits early in the summer things went downhill. Danilo Gallinari tore his ACL while playing for the Italy national team at EuroBasket and it was recently announced that Robert Williams will need knee surgery.
The biggest bombshell, however, came when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that head coach Ime Udoka would likely be suspended. Shams Charania by The Athletic He then revealed that he was in a consensual relationship with a Boston associate.
It took a while for anyone on the Celtics’ side to release a statement, but late Thursday night, September 22, both Boston and Udoka themselves commented on the matter. In his first statement since the incident broke, Udoka apologized to the organization and their fans and said he had no further comments on the matter.
“I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization and my family for letting them down. I’m sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation and I accept the team’s decision. Out of respect for everyone involved, I will not comment further.” Read Udoka’s statement.
As for the Celtics’ initial statement, they revealed that Udoka would be suspended for the entire 2022-23 NBA season.
In an official statement from the team, the Celtics announced that Udoka will be suspended for the upcoming season. Additionally, they announced that they would make a decision on Udoka’s future with the team at a later date.
“The Boston Celtics announced today that the team has suspended head coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season for violating team policy. A decision on his future with the Celtics beyond this season will be made at a later date. The suspension will take effect immediately.” it said in the statement.
Udoka joined the team last summer when Danny Ainge retired (for a short stint) and Brad Stevens moved to the front office. He led the Celtics to the NBA Finals and finished fourth in NBA Coach of the Year voting.
But now that Udoka will miss the entire season, assistant coach Joe Mazzulla is set to take over.
Now that Udoka will be out for the entire upcoming season, Boston has appointed his best assistant as interim head coach.
“The Celtics have named assistant coach Joe Mazzulla as interim head coach, sources tell ESPN.” Wojnarowski reports.
Mazzulla joined the team in 2019 and has been an assistant ever since. He remained on the Boston staff even when Udoka Stevens took over. Will Hardy was Udoka’s top assistant last year, but earlier this summer he took a job as head coach with the Utah Jazz. In return, Mazzulla was appointed the new chief assistant. Now he gets the chance to play an even bigger role.
This is the last way Boston wanted to start their season, but now they have no choice but to play the hand they were dealt.