The 2022-23 Boston Celtics endured their latest — and certainly most buzzworthy — setback prior to the start of their Eastern conference-defending campaign, courtesy head coach Ime Udoka being suspended.
Udoka, just weeks ahead of his second NBA head coaching year, quickly became the biggest topic of discussion in the online gossip mill when reports surfaced surrounding his one-year suspension for violating the organization’s team policy.
However, despite the Celtics’ current head coaching debacle that corners the front office and ownership group to try to rectify the mess quickly, the oddsmakers have some surprising faith in Boston’s current coaching staff heading into next season.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Joe Mazzulla, who served as a bench coach for the Celtics last season and now is the team’s interim head coach, has the third best chance at taking home the 2023 NBA Coach of the Year award with odds set at +1200. Considering Mazzulla taking Udoka’s place for next year as a 34-year-old is an unspeakable challenge, slotting a first-year head coach who is adopting several significant injuries is extremely questionable, to say the least.
Mazzulla currently trails Minnesota Timberwolves’ Chris Finch (+1000) and Taylor Jenkins (+1000) of the Memphis Grizzlies. Yet, Mazzulla leads a few notable household names such as Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra (+1300), Monty Williams (+1400) of the Phoenix Suns, and Steve Kerr (+1500) of the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
Patrolling the head coaching role this year will make Mazzulla the youngest head coach to ever take over for a team that previously reached the NBA Finals since Lawrence Frank did so for the 2003-2004 New Jersey Nets — replacing Byron Scott — according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Mazzulla is handed the reins after “Udoka had an improper intimate and consensual relationship with a female member of the team staff,” The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported as a follow up to the initial reports of the suspension being described as “significant” according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
On Friday, Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens and team owner Wyc Grousbeck partook in a press conference, addressing the matter with members of the media.