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The Houston Rockets officially hired Ime Udoka as their head coach on Tuesday, April 25, with terms of the contract undisclosed.
Udoka, 45, arrives with an impressive bench resume but a troubled off-court record.
In his lone season as an NBA head coach, he led Boston to the 2022 NBA Finals. However, he was suspended and later fired by the Celtics after a team investigation ruled that he violated team policies related to an intimate relationship with a female staff member.
Though it was initially viewed as a consensual relationship, the woman accused Udoka of making unwanted comments toward her.
Rockets general manager Rafael Stone said in a statement, “We are excited to welcome Ime to the Houston Rockets. Ime’s intelligence, drive and toughness were the traits we were looking for in a coach to lead our team through this next stage of our development as we strive to become a champion.
“We were honored to have the opportunity to speak to multiple outstanding candidates throughout the interview process and felt that Ime’s vision best aligned with the goals the (team-owning) Fertitta Family and myself have for the future of the Rockets.”
According to multiple media reports, Udoka was a candidate to become the Nets’ head coach when Brooklyn made a change this season. He also was a possible target for the Toronto Raptors, according to ESPN, after they recently fired Nick Nurse.
Joe Mazzulla took over as the Celtics’ interim head coach in Udoka’s absence and eventually received the post on a permanent basis.
Mazzulla, who was an assistant under Udoka last season, congratulated his former boss on Tuesday.
“Happy for him in the sense that second chances are important, grace is important, forgiveness is important,” Mazzulla said.
“I’m a product of a second chance and I think it’s important to have that in society. I texted him congratulations and that I was grateful just for the time that I had to learn from him as a coach.”
Boston produced a 51-31 mark under Udoka in 2021-2022.
The Portland, Oregon native previously was as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs (2012-2019), Philadelphia 76ers (2019-2020), and Brooklyn (2020-2021).
The Rockets parted ways with coach Stephen Silas following a 22-60 season. They have a 14% chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft lottery, tied with the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio. – Rappler.com