Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka will receive a ‘significant financial penalty’ in addition to his one-year suspension following ‘multiple violations’ of Celtics’ conduct rules, the team’s majority owner Wyc Grousbeck has confirmed.
Grousbeck and President of basketball operations, Brad Stevens, faced the media in the aftermath of suspending their head coach for the entirety of the 2022-23 season.
Udoka’s enforced sabbatical lasts until June 30, 2023 with a decision on his future as head coach to be determined at a later juncture.
‘We’re not going to talk about the long-term because nothing has been decided,’ Grousbeck said.
The Celtics owner was unspecific as to whether Udoka’s absence will be without pay, simply stating there will be a ‘significant financial penalty when you net it all out.’
However, Scott Cacciola of The New York Times reports that throughout the suspension, Udoka will be ‘unpaid.’
The second-year coach, who led the C’s to the NBA Finals in his debut season, is alleged to have had an affair with a female staff member within the Celtics organization.
Stevens elucidated the Celtics have a duty to look after women in their organization following the saga, amidst a wave of ‘rampant bulls***.’
‘We have a lot of talented women in our organization and I thought yesterday was really hard on them,’ Stevens said of the rumor and innuendo surrounding Udoka and potentially involved parties.
Brad Stevens faced the press alongside Celtics majority owner Wyc Grousbeck on Friday
‘Nobody can control Twitter speculation and rampant bulls***, but I do think we have a responsibility to make sure we are there to support them.’
With numerous names thrown into the situation on social media, Grousbeck was explicit that only Udoka was ‘facing penalty or reprimand.’
According to Grousbeck, the origination’s players are ‘very concerned’ about the situation and indeed allegations leveled at Udoka.
‘We think our culture is very strong,’ he added. ‘We’re very proud of it. But this has shaken it. I don’t think there is a wider issue than what we’ve spent several months uncovering.’
Joe Mazzulla — who has been an assistant with Boston since 2019 — will be the team’s interim head coach.
Celtics majority owner Wyc Grousbeck came down strongly on his head coach while addressing the incidences which have sent shockwaves through the NBA landscape
Stevens, who previously was the head coach of the Celtics, praised Mazzulla and illuminated what he will bring to an unquestionably talented roster.
‘He’s an exceptionally sharp and talented person,’ he said. ‘I believe strongly in him and his ability to lead people, to galvanize a room and get behind him.
‘And his ability to organize and understand all that comes with running a team through the season.’
Mazzulla was arrested for domestic battery in 2009 and was charged with fighting with police and underage drinking in 2008.
When asked about the battery arrest, Stevens admitted 34-year-old Mazzulla was vetted prior to his hire in 2019.
Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka will be suspended for the entirety of the 2022-23 season
Prior to joining Boston, Udoka won a ring as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs
‘I believe strongly that, that shaped him into who he is today in a really good way,’ Stevens said of the team’s interim head coach.
I believe strongly in his substantiveness as a person. He’s been very open with me on how those incidents impacted him.
‘He’ll be the first to tell you that he’s 110% accountable for that. I’ll be the first to tell you that I believe in him.’
Boston were two wins shy of winning an NBA Championship last season with Udoka.
Now they face a wholly unprecedented set of circumstances, just weeks before their opening regular season game vs. Philadelphia on October 18.
Udoka guided a youthful and talented Celtics roster to the Eastern Conference Title in 2021-22
Udoka’s top assistant, Will Hardy (right), left Boston to become head coach of the Utah Jazz, leaving former Celtics assistant Joe Mazzulla (left) as the fill-in head coach for Boston
The situation is puzzling, not only because Boston is sidelining a coach that guided the team to the NBA Finals in his first season, but also because the Celtics have turned an ostensibly private and reportedly consensual relationship into a public matter.
The Athletic raised questions about the relationship Thursday night, reporting that Udoka was accused by the woman of making ‘unwanted comments’ to her, prompting the Celtics to launch internal interviews that ultimately led to his suspension.
The six-game NBA Finals loss to the Warriors notwithstanding, Udoka’s stock couldn’t have been higher entering the off-season.
Now his reputation, like the situation itself, is murky with an uncertain future.