Nets reportedly expected to hire suspended Celtics coach Ime Udoka to replace Steve Nash

The Athletic’s Shams Chararnia reports that the Celtics are already engaged in discussions with Udoka and planning to make the hire. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that a deal is expected within 24 to 48 hours. The Celtics will reportedly let Udoka out of his contract to take another job.

Nets general manager Sean Marks told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that the team “absolutely” hasn’t settled on Udoka or anyone else as head coach. Tuesday evening, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix reported that the Nets and Udoka were finalizing a deal.

If Udoka is the next Nets coach, he brings his own set of baggage into an already tumultuous situation. His first season in Boston was a success as he coached the Celtics to the NBA Finals. But the Celtics suspended him for the 2022-23 season for reportedly having “an improper intimate and consensual relationship with a female member of the team staff.” The official Celtics stance is that he violated the team’s code of conduct. He’s not suspended by the NBA and would presumably be eligible to coach this season for another team.

Meanwhile, the Nets are in the third year of their roster construction centered around Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The pair was expected to anchor a championship contender. So far the Nets have a single playoff series win to show for it and look little like a playoff team this season amid a 2-5 start.

Udoka would have to contend with the controversy surrounding Irving, who’s under fire after promoting an antisemitic movie on social media and declining to back down from his decision to do so. The Nets didn’t make Irving available for interviews following Monday’s game after he was combative with media on Saturday when asked about the topic.

Managing the reclamation of Ben Simmons’ career will likewise be a priority. The beleaguered point guard is six games into his Nets tenure after missing the entirety of last season amid his breakup with the Philadelphia 76ers. The scoring woes that plagued him in Philadelphia have so far carried over as he’s remained hesitant to shoot the ball. In his six games so far, Simmons is averaging 6.2 points and 4.3 fouls while taking just 5.7 field-goal attempts per game.

Udoka has a single season of head-coaching experience after nine seasons as an NBA assistant. His last stop before taking over in Boston was as an assistant under Nash in Brooklyn during the 2020-21 season. He previously worked as an assistant for the Philadelphia 76ers and San Antonio Spurs.

SOURCE: Yahoo Sports

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