After a number of reports heading into Thursday, it appears the question is when, not if, the Nets will hire suspended Celtics head coach Ime Udoka.
Brooklyn and Steve Nash agreed to part ways Tuesday, and soon after the decision, reports surfaced the Nets were targeting Udoka as his replacement. Boston reportedly will not look for compensation for the 45-year-old coach. Udoka was issued a year-long suspension by the team for violation of team policy due to having an inappropriate workplace relationship with a female Celtics staffer. It later was reported he made unwanted comments toward the staffer.
Players have opened up about the lack of knowledge of the situation, but the Nets reportedly have done their background check into the matter, which former NBA player Matt Barnes said would be “100 times uglier” if details emerged.
But Brooklyn appears dead set on bringing back Udoka to the organization. His history as a former assistant coach was reportedly a driver for Kevin Durant’s interest in a trade to Boston.
As head coach, Udoka would ideally bring stability the Nets desperately need with Kyrie Irving’s situation added on to the drama Brooklyn brought on to itself early in the season. And because it is early in the season, Udoka could have a case for the Coach of the Year award. Oddsmakers at DraftKings Sportsbook have added Udoka to their awards page, and this is where he stood among other contenders prior to Thursday’s games.
Will Hardy +850
Willie Green +900
Joe Mazzulla +900
Taylor Jenkins +950
Mike Budenholzer +1000
JB Bickerstaff +1000
Ime Udoka +1000
Caesars Sportsbook has the same odds for Udoka, but they have New Orleans Pelicans coach Green as the favorite at +750, with Utah Jazz coach Hardy below at +850.
As for Udoka, a $100 bet at his current odds would pay out $1,100. Before his suspension, he was a +850 favorite, and his successor, Mazzulla, had odds of +1200 before the start of the season. The market still has confidence in the interim head coach as the Celtics still have the traits of a championship contender, despite a 4-3 start.
A current bet on Udoka would be buying high. While he is an ideal candidate to steer the Nets ship in the right direction, the situation is not a bright one. Even when looking at things from an on-court perspective, Brooklyn’s roster does not resemble one similar to that of the 2021-22 Celtics, who became the league’s top defense in the second half of the season.
If Udoka can bring stability to the Nets and make them a legit contender, however, it would be seen as a miracle across the league, and he would have a logical case for Coach of the Year.