The Boston Celtics have hired Ime Udoka as their new head coach, per Adrian Wojnarowski.
Udoka, 43, recently finished a season coaching the Brooklyn Nets as an assistant behind Steve Nash. Previously, he held assistant jobs in Philadelphia (2019-20) and San Antonio (2012-2019). He’s also a former NBA player, spending seven professional years across four teams.
According to Woj, the new general manager and former head coach Brad Stevens valued Udoka’s coaching experience when considering him for a job.
Udoka succeeds Stevens as the Celtics’ 18th coach in franchise history. His hiring marks a new era for Celtics’ basketball in the first year after longtime GM Danny Ainge stepped down earlier this month.
With this new job, Udoka takes over a Boston team that went 36-36 in 2020-21. They snuck into the playoffs through the play-in tournament and lost in five games to the star-studded Brooklyn Nets, Udoka’s former team.
The 2021 season was a down year for Boston, after previously making three conference finals appearances from 2017 to 2020. Boston fans will be eager to see if Udoka takes them back to contending status.
Boston’s roster features young all-star wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as the centerpieces. So, one of Udoka’s primary responsibilities as a coach will be to develop those two. Admittedly, it’s a tall task. But, Udoka’s previous experience around the league should bode well for the duo. After all, he spent seven years with Greg Popovich’s Spurs, a team notorious for player development.
The Celtics also give Udoka numerous other young prospects to work with and develop. Among those prospects are Payton Pritchard, Romeo Langford, Aaron Nesmith, and Moses Brown.
In the meantime, GM Brad Stevens will look to round out the rest of Boston’s roster in the offseason. The Celtics own the 16th and 45th picks of this year’s talented NBA draft. The draft takes place on July 29, while free agency opens on August 2.