The Brooklyn Nets are finalizing a deal to hire suspended Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka, and a formal agreement is expected to be reached as soon as Wednesday, sources told ESPN.
After parting with coach Steve Nash, the Nets are bringing back Udoka to try and salvage a reeling franchise amid turmoil and a 2-6 start to the season.
Boston is not requiring draft compensation from Brooklyn to hire Udoka, but there are discussions that are taking place before a deal can be finalized, sources said.
The Nets, who have lost six of eight games to start the season after Tuesday night’s 108-99 loss to the Bulls, will keep assistant Jacque Vaughn as the acting head coach until Udoka can start the job.
Boston suspended Udoka for the 2022-23 season for an improper relationship with a subordinate before training camp, but sources say the Celtics never planned to stand in the way of Udoka accepting another coaching job.
Udoka was an assistant for one season under Nash in 2020-21 before becoming the Celtics’ coach and leading them to the NBA Finals last season. Udoka has a long history with Nets general manager Sean Marks, dating back to them working together with the San Antonio Spurs.
The Nets have been vetting the circumstances around Udoka’s suspension and believe he can tighten up the league’s 29th-ranked defensive team and command leadership in a difficult locker room, sources said. Udoka spent a season with Ben Simmons — a player the Nets are desperately trying to get on track — on the Philadelphia 76ers‘ coaching staff in 2019-20.
The independent law firm probe into Udoka found that he used crude language in his dialogue with a female subordinate before the start of an improper workplace relationship with the woman, an element that significantly factored into the severity of his suspension, sources told ESPN in September.
Those investigative findings — which described verbiage on Udoka’s part that was deemed especially concerning coming from a workplace superior — contributed to what was an unlikely pathway to his reinstatement as Celtics coach in 2023, sources said.
The power dynamic associated with a superior’s improper relationship with a staff member was the primary finding and policy violation cited in the law firm’s report, which was commissioned by the Celtics and completed in September, sources said.