The Boston Celtics have suspended Ime Udoka for a full year, banning the coach who led them to the NBA Finals last spring for the entire 2022-23 season over what two people with knowledge of the matter said was an improper relationship with a member of the organization.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not reveal that detail publicly. In a statement issued Thursday night after a full day of wrangling over the terms of the punishment, the Celtics said Udoka violated team policies and left open the possibility that a longer separation could follow.
“A decision about his future with the Celtics beyond this season will be made at a later date,” the team said.
Assistant coach Joe Mazzulla will take over as interim coach, one of the people who spoke with The AP said. The defending Eastern Conference champions are scheduled to hold media day on Monday and open training camp on Tuesday in preparation for the Oct. 18 season opener.
In a statement published by ESPN, Udoka apologized “to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down.”
“I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team’s decision,” he said. “Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment.”