The 5 Best Replacements for Boston Celtics Coach Ime Udoka
Boston Celtics fans went to bed confused and concerned Wednesday evening when rumors spread that head coach Ime Udoka was facing severe disciplinary action and possibly a lengthy suspension.
The news only got worse Thursday morning, when ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the issue at hand was a consensual but inappropriate relationship between Udoka and another Celtics staffer.
In the interim, it appears assistant Joe Mazzulla will take over. But should the Celtics ultimately decide to part ways with Udoka after just one season, here are five possible replacements:
This idea was first floated by Celtics great Cedric Maxwell on his podcast in 2021, when Brad Stevens left his post as Head Coach for the front office. Shaw checks a lot of boxes for the Celtics. He has prior experience as a head coach for the Denver Nuggets, as well as extensive experience as an assistant coach in the league.
Plus, Shaw was drafted by the Celtics, spending three seasons playing alongside Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge, and Reggie Lewis.
Stoudamire was one of Udoka’s go-to assistants during the 2022 NBA Finals run, and is widely respected throughout the league not just for his coaching, but his prolific career as a player.
In addition to running the offense for the loaded Trail Blazers teams of the late '90s, Stoudamire was the NBA’s 1996 Rookie of the Year (and would likely help leading a team that allowed turnovers to cost it a title).
Lawson joined the Celtics for just one season as an assistant under Stevens in 2019-20, but to say she had an impact would be an understatement.
Not only did she help guide the underdog C’s to the Eastern Conference Finals in the surreal “NBA Bubble” during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to MassLive, but she also worked closely with guard Marcus Smart, whose offensive mishaps cost the Celtics last June against the would-be champion Warriors.
But would Lawson leave a highly-prestigious position (Head Coach of the Duke Blue Devils women’s team) for an organization digging itself out of a scandal?
Scal joins Shaw as a wildcard candidate, and conventional wisdom says the man they call “The White Mamba” passes and stays where he is as the popular successor to Tommy Heinsohn on the Celtics’ broadcast team.
Still, Scalabrine has a great basketball mind, sharing insights and calling out plays before they happen, much like the late Jerry Remy would during Red Sox games. Scalabrine also has coaching experience as an assistant for Mark Jackson with the Warriors during the early days of the Steph Curry era. But again, would he leave a cushy gig for life for one of the most pressure-packed jobs in sports?
Perhaps the pressure wouldn’t be so bad. Scalabrine and his teammates felt plenty of it playing next to Kevin Garnett en route to a 2008 title.
This is the conventional choice, and one I would ultimately go with. Brad Stevens is a tremendous coach who simply burned out in 2021.
And who wouldn’t, when you have to deal with two years of Kyrie Irving’s nonsense, the bizarre Kemba Walker for Terry Rozier trade, letting Al Horford walk away, and fans chanting for Tacko Fall every night?
After a year off to refresh, it seems logical for Stevens to simply implement Udoka’s defensive system and hand the GM duties off to New England native Mike Zarren, who is more than ready for the job.
Of course, this is all assuming Stevens isn’t busy with screen tests and auditions after his scene-stealing cameo in New Hampshire native Adam Sandler’s 2022 drama “Hustle.”