The decision to hire Ime Udoka as the next head coach of the Boston Celtics could be a slam dunk for president of basketball operations Brad Stevens.
Not only is the move viewed highly internally, with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart reportedly among those who offered positive reviews of Udoka during the hiring process. It also reportedly is garnering praise from across the NBA.
“I like Ime Udoka a lot. He has been someone I believe has been the right choice for weeks now,” Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix said Thursday on NBC Sports Boston’s “Early Edition.” “And talking to different people around the league, some who have worked with Udoka, some who just know him, they are strongly supportive of this hire.”
Udoka seemingly checks a lot of boxes for the Celtics, with perhaps his most important attribute being his ability to connect with players. It’s telling that Tatum, Brown and Smart had good things to say about the 43-year-old from their experience together with Team USA at the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
As Mannix explained Thursday, the Celtics are getting “a little bit of everything” with Udoka, who might’ve landed a head coaching job elsewhere this summer had Boston not been quick to act. It sure seems like Udoka, who has worked as an assistant coach in the NBA since 2012 after retiring as a player, is ready for the next step.
“I think in Ime Udoka you get the best of both worlds,” Mannix said, as transcribed by NBC Sports Boston. “You get the ex-player who can relate to players on a level that a Brad Stevens or any coach that didn’t play the game can relate. And you get a guy who paid his dues, whether it was through the (Gregg) Popovich system in San Antonio, working for Brett Brown in Philadelphia, working for Steve Nash and the superstars in Brooklyn.”
Udoka certainly will face pressure in his new role, especially with the Celtics coming off a disappointing season and Boston’s former head coach, Stevens, overseeing the entire operation.
But all signs point toward Udoka being an excellent hire, which obviously would be the first step toward the Celtics having a successful offseason.