Ime Udoka is expected be the next head coach of the Boston Celtics. The former Brooklyn Nets and San Antonio Spurs assistant coach will be leading an NBA team for the first time.
Udoka and the Celtics reached an agreement on framework of a deal, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet final.
ESPN first reported that the two sides had reached an agreement.
Udoka, 43, started his professional playing career in Europe but returned for short stints with the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks. But with his hometown Portland Trail Blazers in 2006-07, Udoka played in a career-high 75 games (all starts) while averaging 8.4 points per game on 40.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
His NBA career ended with the Spurs in 2011 and Gregg Popovich hired him as an assistant the next year. He stayed with San Antonio until the 2019-20 season when he joined the Philadelphia 76ers coaching staff. Udoka spent the 2020-21 campaign under Steve Nash with the Nets.
Internationally, Udoka played for the Nigerian national team and won two bronze medals at the African Championships (2005, 2011).
The Celtics had a leadership drain after a first-round exit from the 2021 playoffs. Danny Ainge stepped down as team president after 19 years, and former head coach Brad Stevens was elevated to president of basketball operations — and led the search for his replacement.
That ended with the hiring of Udoka, who has been connected to other head coaching positions in previous years, such as the Chicago Bulls’ most recent opening.