Ime Udoka expected to be hired as next Nets head coach: Reports

Ime Udoka Nets
Ime Udoka

It seemed that the Nets had found their new coach as quickly as they had decided to move on from their old one. 

The news had barely broken when Ime Udoka’s name began surfacing as a possible replacement for Steve Nash, who was fired early Tuesday afternoon. A short time later it appeared that the decision was all but made after both The Athletic’s Shams Charania and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski indicated that the job would be Udoka’s.

The official hiring of Udoka could come within the next 24 to 48 hours, Wojnarowski reported.

Nets general manager Sean Marks, however, said that he had not chosen a new head coach yet. Marks didn’t want to comment on the list of candidates that the team is considering for the job. 

The quickness of the move is sure to raise a few eyebrows as is the decision itself to bring Udoka into the fold. The Nets have been an organization that has courted controversy and this will be no different after Udoka had been suspended for the year by the Boston Celtics for an “intimate relationship with a female member of the organization,” The Athletic had reported. 

It had also been reported that he had made “unwanted comments to the woman,” according to Charania and Wojnarowski reported that Udoka had used “crude language.” 

The Celtics had given the Nets permission to speak with Udoka and they will allow him to leave freely.  However, they will not seek any compensation from the Nets if they hire Udoka, according to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. 

Marks was asked directly if the organization would be comfortable with Udoka considering the circumstances surrounding him in Boston. The Nets GM wanted to wait for the process of narrowing down candidates to play out before judging anyone. 

“I will reserve that when those decisions are made,” Marks said. “I couldn’t give you a timeline on that. Obviously, there’s a reason why we made this movie when we did cause time is ticking. We do want this process to be a thorough one. We’re not going to skip steps in that and we’ll do our due diligence like with anybody. … The organization does very, very thorough du diligence on anybody and you arrive at the best possible outcome. “

The Nets have already been dealing with off-court drama with Kyrie Irving after he tweeted out a link to a film widely considered to contain antisemitic tropes in it. All of this comes as the Nets had said they hoped to avoid the drama this season after a year filled with it last year. 

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From a basketball perspective, Udoka makes plenty of sense for the Nets considering his connection to the team and his success last season as a head coach in Boston. He outcoached Nash in the first-round sweep of Brooklyn and helped lead the Celtics to the NBA Finals. 

Udoka had served as an assistant on Nash’s staff during the 2020-21 season and he has a familiarity with all three Nets stars from his time in Brooklyn and with the Philadelphia 76ers. Both Kevin Durant and Irving praised his toughness and the way he coached during his one season with the Nets.