Celtics suspend their coach for the entire season

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Celtics suspended coach Ime Udoka for the entire 2022-23 season on Thursday, effective immediately and with no guarantee that he will return to the team in the future.

Udoka was suspended for “team policy violations,” the Celtics said. Hours earlier, two people familiar with the matter said that the strategist would be sanctioned for an inappropriate relationship with a member of the organization.

Those people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the current Eastern Conference champions have not released any details publicly.

“The decision on his future with the Celtics beyond this season will be made at a later date,” the team said.

Udoka released a statement on ESPN, apologizing but not elaborating.

“I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization and my family for letting you down. I regret having put the team in this difficult situation and I accept the decision. Out of respect for all involved, I will not speak further on the matter,” he stated.

One of the people who spoke to the AP said the Celtics have decided to have assistant coach Joe Mazzulla take over the team on an interim basis.

Mazzulla interviewed with the Utah Jazz for the coaching job earlier this year, but the job was taken by Will Hardy, another of Udoka’s assistants in Boston last season.

Udoka’s other attendees included Damon Stoudemire, Ben Sullivan, Aaron Miles, and Tony Dobbins.

This is the second disciplinary sanction of great implications in the last two weeks in the NBA. Last week, Commissioner Adam Silver decided to suspend Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver for a year and fine him $10 million after an investigation revealed his pattern of inappropriate workplace behavior, including language rude and racist.

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Sarver indicated Wednesday that he plans to sell the team.

Udoka had a brilliant first season as coach of the Celtics. He finished the regular season 51-31 — going 26-6 in the last 32 games — and guided Boston past Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Miami en route to the NBA Finals.

The Celtics lost the title series to the Golden State Warriors in six games.

Losing Udoka would be a significant blow to a team that is widely considered among the favorites to contend for the NBA title this season after falling just two games short of winning the championship last season — Udoka’s first year managing the NBA. Boston.

Boston moved early in the market by acquiring Malcolm Brogdon in a trade with Indiana to bolster its already potent shooting guard roster. He also signed veteran forward Danilo Gallinari in free agency.

But Gallinari tore the ACL in his left knee last month and will miss next season. Center Robert Williams, a key player in the team’s defensive structure, suffers from knee discomfort and it is not believed that he will be able to play at the start of the season.

They also sounded like a destination for a possible trade of Kevin Durant, the star of the Brooklyn Nets. Durant asked to be transferred but ended up backing down.

The Celtics start their training camp on Tuesday.