Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka faces disciplinary action that could include a significant suspension for his role in a consensual, intimate relationship with a woman who is a member of the franchise’s staff, sources told ESPN Wednesday night.
The relationship was deemed a violation of the organization’s guidelines, and a decision on the length of the suspension is expected as early as Thursday, sources said. While no final decision has been made, there have been scenarios in internal discussions that would keep Udoka out for the entire 2022-2023 season, sources said.
According to sources, Udoka’s job is not believed to be at risk.
Udoka’s assistant coach, Will Hardy, left to become the coach of the Utah Jazz, and another Jazz finalist, Celtics assistant Joe Mazzulla, is likely to seriously consider an interim role, sources told ESPN.
Udoka joined the Celtics last summer after serving as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets following his NBA playing career.
Udoka replaced Brad Stevens as coach. Stevens moved upstairs to become Boston’s president of basketball operations after his predecessor, Danny Ainge, decided to leave the organization.
In his first season as coach, Udoka led a remarkable turnaround in Boston that saw the Celtics go from below .500 in late January to finishing the season 28-7 over their final 35 games. They then made an impressive run through the Eastern Conference playoffs, reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in 12 years.
Udoka is the fifth coach in the last 25 years to reach the NBA Finals in his first season as a head coach, and the first since Nick Nurse in 2019.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, he also became the first rookie coach to win multiple games in his first postseason 7. Udoka led Boston to seven-game victories over the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Finals before Boston lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games in the NBA Finals.
ESPN NBA writer Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.