Celtics suspend coach Ime Udoka for entire NBA season

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Los Angeles (AFP) – The Boston Celtics suspended coach Ime Udoka for the entirety of the 2022-23 NBA season on Thursday for “violations of team policy.”

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

“Suspension takes effect immediately.”

ESPN and The Athletic reported on Thursday that the 45-year-old Nigerian-American had a consensual relationship with a member of the Celtics team that broke the franchise’s code of conduct.

The Celtics did not specify what Udoka’s policy violations were.

The punishment, among the toughest ever imposed on an NBA coach, comes with the Celtics’ preseason training camp, which is set to open next week.

Assistant coach Joe Mazzulla could take over as interim head coach for the 2022-23 season, ESPN reported.

Udoka’s top assistant coach last season, Will Hardy, left in June to become head coach of the Utah Jazz.

Udoka replaced Brad Stevens as head coach last season after Stevens was promoted to president of basketball operations following the departure of Danny Ainge.

Udoka played seven seasons in the NBA, the last four with San Antonio before his playing career ended in 2011.

He had stints as an assistant coach in San Antonio, Philadelphia and Brooklyn before taking charge of the Celtics in June 2021 and had an impressive rookie season.

Boston ended last season 28-7 and made it through the Eastern Conference to reach the NBA Finals last June for the first time since 2010.

They dropped in six games for the Golden State Warriors in the championship series.

In a statement obtained by ESPN, Udoka said he accepted the Celtics’ decision.

“I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization and my family for letting them down,” Udoka said. “I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation and I accept the team’s decision.

“Out of respect for everyone involved, I will not comment further.”

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