How will the Celtics fare without Ime Udoka?

On Thursday, September 22 The Boston Celtics announced that Head Coach Ime Udoka would be suspended for the 22-23 season effective immediately for breaking team policies. According to ESPN, The Athletic, and the Boston Globe, Udoka had an intimate relationship with a female staffer, which was the cause for his suspension. Udoka was quoted saying, “I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team’s decision.”  

Marcus Smart who is the Point Guard on the Celtics was quoted saying, “we couldn’t believe what we [the team] were hearing, especially at the time we were hearing it.”  The 21-22 season was Udoka’s first season as the Celtics head coach, and in this season he helped coach the Celtics to their first NBA finals appearance since 2010, but they lost 4-2 to the Golden State Warriors.

Now how will the Celtics fare this season? First, is the question of will Udoka return to the Celtics next season, and according to CNN, “Gary Washburn, national basketball writer for the Boston Globe told John Berman and Brianna Keilar on CNN’s New Day that Udoka may never coach the Celtics again.” 

Taking over for Udoka is Joe Mazzulla, who was an assistant coach under Udoka. From 2011 to 2016 Mazzulla was the Assistant Coach of college teams in the NCAA Division II, and for 2016 and 2017 he moved up to be an Assistant Coach in the NBA G League for the Maine Celtics. Then in 2017, he got his first Head Coaching job for the Fairmont State Fighting Falcons where he coached for them until 2019. In that time he had two winning seasons, and in 2019  his team made it to the NCAA Division II Tournament where they were eliminated in the first round. Then after his success with the Fighting Falcons, he was hired to be an Assistant Coach for the Celtics in 2019, and now in 2022, he is the Interim Head Coach. 

We’ve seen that Mazzulla can coach a team to the playoffs, and that he is able to make connections with players, and he also has 2 years of experience as an Assistant Coach with this Celtics team. On top of that, according to NBC sports, the Celtics are seeking permission to interview Jay Larranaga of the 76ers for an assistant role to Mazzulla.  If the Celtics get Larranaga, this will be a significant aid because he was an Assistant Coach with the Celtics from 2012 to 2021. With all this information the Celtics will be able to come back this season right around where they left off and they will almost certainly make it back to the playoffs this season, and maybe make it back to back NBA Finals appearances.