Ime Udoka Nears net helper deal to coach Celtics

Ime Udoka, who has been the Nets’ assistant this season, is close to reaching an agreement to become the next coach for the Boston Celtics, someone who is familiar with the discussions but not authorized to discuss them publicly on Wednesday.

Odoka spent Seven years as an assistant With the San Antonio Spurs under Greg Popovich and one season as an assistant at Philadelphia before coming to the net. he is too Played in the NBA As a reserve for seven years, including spurts with the Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers and three seasons with Tottenham.

The news of impending employment was first reported by ESPN.

This will be the second high-profile move by new Celtics chief Brad Stevens, who was unexpectedly slashed into the role this month. His predecessor, Danny Ang, resigned after the Nets ousted the Celtics Qualifiers in the first round.

Stevens has coached the team for the past eight years, but this season has been a particularly tumultuous one for the Celtics, who have been beleaguered by injuries and an ill-fitting roster lacking in depth. Boston’s top all-star Jason Tatum has also dealt with the lingering effects of Covid-19. After reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in 2019-20, the Celtics only had to fight to get into the playoffs and finished the season at 36-36.

Odoka, 43, will inherit a team centered around two All-Star wingers, Tatum and Jalen Brown. In his first big move as team boss, Stevens last week replaced Kemba Walker, who was the team’s starting point guard, picking Boston in the 2021 first round to the Oklahoma City Thunder in favor of Al Horford and Moses Brown, the rookie center. . This move increased Celtics’ financial flexibility.

At the press conference announcing his promotion, Stevens said of the internship search: “I think the good news is for anyone we hire, they don’t have to fill Doc Rivers shoes like I did, and they don’t have to fill Danny Ainge shoes now like I do. They have to figure out a way to be better than the last man.”

Odoka, a Nigerian-American, will become the sixth black coach in North America Franchise History. The others are Rivers (2004-13), ML Carr (1995-1997), KC Jones (1983-88), Tom Sanders (1978) and Bill Russell (1966-1969).

In the league that has been criticized for Mostly hiring white coachesAlthough more than 70 percent of the players are black, Odoka will be one of the nine non-white coaches. (That doesn’t include Nate McMillan, who is the Black and interim coach of the Atlanta Hawks.) Odoka will coach in a city that has once again been in the spotlight for its treatment of black athletes, during this year’s playoffs. Kyrie Irving, who played for the Celtics from 2017 to 2019, He indicated that he heard racist comments A fan during his time in Boston he said he hoped he never heard of them as a member of the Nets.

There are six other coaching vacancies across the league, in Portland, Orlando, Indiana, New Orleans, Washington, and Dallas.

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