How Ime Udoka’s fallout with Boston Celtics could save the Brooklyn Nets
It’s not too often that offseason drama benefits the Brooklyn Nets. In fact, it’s been their Achilles heel for the better part of the past two seasons. Words like “vaccine,” “injuries,” or “trade request” are all triggers for fans at this point — and that’s more than understandable.
However, all tides change at some point. The waves of nonsense and drama which used to rock Brooklyn’s boat may finally be turning elsewhere and in return could bring ashore some lost treasure.
Two summers ago, the Brooklyn Nets let arguably their most important asset go ahead of the 2021-22 season, assistant coach Ime Udoka. With him off the bench, Brooklyn’s already shaky defensive schemes crumbled like wet sand at the beach.
Having joined the Boston Celtics as their head coach, Udoka’s new team flourished, making a surprise run to the NBA Finals. Udoka even clocked in at fourth place in NBA Coach of the Year voting.
With Udoka being just 45 years old and at the helm of a young, overachieving Boston unit, it became clear this summer that Brooklyn let one of the “good ones” slip their fingers. That was, at least until a few weeks ago when everything turned on its side.
Unless you live under a rock, you likely heard about the Celtics suspending Udoka for the 2022-23 season for a violation of team policies. The Athletic later reported that the suspension came as a result of “an intimate relationship with a female member of the organization.”
As the story unfolded, many began to speculate that Udoka’s days as the Celtics head coach were over, meaning that he would seek out new opportunities elsewhere.
Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Mannix reported that Udoka was considering resigning from his position. ESPN‘s Adrain Wojnarowski also reported that Udoka “may become a candidate or a coach of interest for other jobs that might open or might become open during the season or certainly next season.”
For those unable to connect the dots, this all opens a door leading back to Brooklyn for Udoka, perhaps even into a head coaching gig.
While current head coach Steve Nash remains intact as the team’s leader on the bench, he was under a microscope all summer for his failure to lead Brooklyn past the first round and with Kevin Durant reportedly calling for him to be fired. If the Nets start out slow this year, fans, media members, and perhaps the players once again will surely call for Nash’s head, widening this door for Udoka.
Yesterday morning, The Athletic‘s Jared Weiss somewhat propped it open, even labeling the Nets as the “most obvious destination” for Udoka if they moved on from Nash. His podcast partner Mike Scotto of Hoops Hype also mentioned that Udoka is “fond of Durant” dating back to their days in Brooklyn.
Like that “it’s all coming together” meme from The Emperor’s New Groove, everything that had to happen in order to land Udoka back in Brooklyn has happened. If things continue to fall a certain way, Udoka could return along with his basketball expertise which made the Nets a far more terrifying force two seasons ago.
Now, although we may be in the redzone in regard to this hypothetical situation coming true, we’re not quite at the goal line yet. The Nets still need a cause to fire Nash, and more importantly, they need to do their homework on what exactly Udoka did to get suspended and whether or not they deem it unbefitting to a head coach.
But again, one’s main takeaway from this entire debacle should be that a pathway leading Udoka back to the Nets not only exists, but is clear. That’s wild in its own right considering how things looked a few months ago when he and the Celtics were sweeping the Nets out of the playoffs and nearly into a full rebuild.