According to ESPN, the Houston Rockets have selected Ime Udoka to be the franchise’s next head coach after parting ways with Stephen Silas earlier this month. Udoka steps into a rebuilding situation while rumors circulate around James Harden’s potential return this summer.
ESPN Sources: Ime Udoka has agreed to a deal to become the next Houston Rockets coach. pic.twitter.com/xhcDRDfnNJ— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 24, 2023
As many of you are probably aware, Udoka was suspended and eventually dismissed by the Boston Celtics after news of an inappropriate workplace relationship involving Udoka surfaced. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Houston Rockets probed the facts of the situation prior to deciding to hire him. Udoka was suspended just days before training camp, which led to Joe Mazzulla taking over as the interim head coach for Boston before being hired full-time in February.
In his first year as a head coach, Ime Udoka led the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals after the Celtics started the year all the way down in 10th place in the East as late as January. The second half of the season was massively different, with Brad Stevens’ moves to the roster also having a big impact. Udoka is credited with enabling Marcus Smart to run the show at the point position, unlocking Jayson Tatum’s abilities, leading him to make All-NBA 1st Team, and more.
While the news of his suspension left the team shrouded in uncertainty, Mazzulla quickly stepped in and led the Celtics to an even better start (and record). Mazzulla was one of the coaches under Udoka, and it’s clear that he’s fit for the job as the Celtics stand as one of the top contenders in the league for the championship.
Udoka will be inheriting a much different team as the Rockets have a 14 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick. The Rockets have young talent like Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Kevin Porter Jr. and more with the opportunity to add a very good young piece in the draft this year. The Rockets also have a ton of cap space. If early reports are any indication, some of that cap space could be headed toward a James Harden reunion, and Boston might have a direct impact on that if the Philadelphia 76ers are sent home early in the second round. Harden was traded from the Rockets to start the 2020-21 season to team up with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the Brooklyn Nets.
Ultimately, the Celtics are perfectly fine without Ime Udoka as they have championship aspirations still, and Ime Udoka seems to be doing fine too after landing this job. This will hopefully put an end to that chapter and all parties can move on.