Ime Udoka, who guided the Boston Celtics to last season’s NBA Finals, will likely be suspended for the entire 2022-23 season for team conduct violations, according to multiple reports Thursday.
The 45-year-old Nigerian-American had a consensual relationship with a female member of the Celtics staff that broke the organization’s guidelines and code of conduct, ESPN and The Athletic reported, citing unnamed sources.
The punishment, among the harshest ever issued an NBA head coach, was expected to be made official as soon as Thursday, ESPN reported.
With training camps opening soon, the punishment likely means Celtics assistant coach Joe Mazzulla would serve as interim coach for the 2022-23 campaign, ESPN reported.
The Celtics lost assistant coach Will Hardy in June when he left to become coach of the NBA’s Utah Jazz.
Udoka replaced Brad Stevens last year after Stevens was promoted to president of basketball operations for the Celtics following the departure of Danny Ainge.
Udoka played seven seasons in the NBA, the last four with San Antonio before his playing career ended in 2011.
He had stints as an assistant coach with San Antonio, Philadelphia and Brooklyn before taking charge of the Celtics in June 2021.
Boston closed last season on a 28-7 run and rolled through the Eastern Conference to reach the NBA Finals last June for the first time since 2010.