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Celtics suspend coach Ime Udoka for 2022-23 NBA season

The Boston Celtics have suspended second-year head coach Ime Udoka for the entire 2022-23 NBA season for violating the team’s code of conduct, the organization announced Thursday night.

Assistant coach Joe Mazzura will serve as the team’s interim head coach in Udoka’s absence. According to ESPN’s Adrian WojnarowskiThe Celtics said a decision about Udoka’s long-term future with the team beyond the 2022-23 season will be made “at a later date.” Udoka issued an apology in a vague statement.

“I want to apologize to the players, the fans, the entire Celtics organization and my family for the disappointment,” Udoka said. Via Marika Andrews on ESPN“I am sorry to put the team in such a difficult situation. I accept the team’s decision. I respect everyone involved and will refrain from further comment.”

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported late Wednesday night, citing an anonymous source, that Udoka “had an inappropriate intimate and consensual relationship with a female member of the team staff.”

About 24 hours later, Charania reported that the Celtics became aware of the relationship in July and were led by both parties to believe the relationship was consensual. However, the woman recently accused Udoka of making unwanted comments towards her, reportedly leading to her internal review.

Udoka led the Celtics to the NBA Finals since his debut as head coach in 2010. Boston is a favorite to win his 2023 championship, according to BetMGM. Udoka played the role in his seven NBA seasons with five different teams before joining the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant in 2012. Udoka, 45, was also given an opportunity by the Celtics to expire after he spent time as an assistant with the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets. lead the team. He finished fourth in last season’s Coach of the Year voting.

Udokaime is in his first season in office, coaching the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals. (Michael Reeves/Getty Images)

Mazura was an assistant to G League affiliates in Boston, Maine during the 2016-17 season. He joined West as an assistant to the staff of the Celtics in 2019 after serving as his second season coach at the Division II college level at Fairmont State University in Virginia. joined. We also hire Operation Danny Ainge and Udoka.

Mazura, 34, coached the Celtics’ 2021 Las Vegas Summer League roster to a championship game. He was interviewed for the head coaching position Udoka filled last year. Over the summer, Mazura also interviewed Ainge, now chief executive of the Utah Jazz, for an opening left by the departure of head coach Quinn Snyder. The Jazz eventually hired Will Hardy, the chief assistant to Udoka’s staff last season.

“When I was hired, I spoke with everyone in the organization, including the players, and he got glowing reviews,” Udoka said in June when news of his Jazz interview broke. “I didn’t know much about him, but I appreciate the opinions of the players. He was a man of consensus….it’s easy to see why. When I was in San Antonio, As I grew up, I’ve encouraged people to speak up more, get out more, and have their voices heard.”

Mazzulla endured a troubled career as a West Virginia University player. He reportedly pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and public intoxication charges in 2008 in an alleged brawl with police.

“At the time, I was starting to ignore support,” he said in the aftermath of legal troubles his father called “mood swings and depression” in 2010. “If I accept help [Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins] And my teammates just got a whole lot easier. “

A monumental task awaits Mazura. Udoka was acclaimed for inspiring Boston’s transformation from a midseason sub .500 team to a juggernaut. In his final three months of last season, the Celtics had the best record in the league (28-8), best offensive rating (120 points per 100 possessions) and best defensive rating (105.1 points per 100 possessions). owned. They earned the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, swept the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs, defeated the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat in back-to-back seven-game series, before defeating the Golden State Warriors in the Finals, where he finished 4-2. was defeated. .

Boston’s chances of a return to the Finals increased after they traded former Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon in July, but the Celtics have suffered a string of unfortunate news. Veteran forward Danilo Gallinari, who signed a free agency contract with the Celtics in the summer, tore his left ACL while playing for Italy in a FIBA ​​World Cup qualifier in late August. Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that his All-Defensive center Robert Williams III will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee this week.

The Celtics will host a Media Day festivities on Monday at 12:00 PM ET.

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer at Yahoo Sports. Any tips? Email or follow us on Twitter. Follow @Brobach