We’re only in the second week of the NBA season and life in the Eastern Conference just got a lot more interesting.
With the team struggling at a 2-5 record and its star point guard drawing crowds of protestors to the Barclays Center over allegations of antisemitism, the Brooklyn Nets found a fast scapegoat in head coach Steve Nash, who was fired early this afternoon. What happens next could be the next chapter in the season’s biggest off-court story so far: the Nets are rumored to be on the brink of hiring exiled Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka to take the reins in Brooklyn.
Last season, his first as Celtics head coach, Udoka took Gang Green back to the NBA Finals for the first time in more than a decade. But he was shelved by Celtics brass just days before the start of this season in a bizarre press conference in which principal owner Wyc Grousbeck and general manager Brad Stevens said an internal investigation revealed that he had had a consensual affair with an unidentified woman who worked for the team. The Celtics’ decision led to debates in the media and inside the league about how Udoka’s yearlong suspension was handled, specifically whether it was fair to potentially hurt his future job prospects by publicly airing an infraction that amounted to an HR issue.
Despite his punishment by the team, though, Udoka isn’t being sanctioned by the NBA, meaning he’s eligible to take another job as long as the Celtics are OK with letting him out of his contract—and out of purgatory. Apparently his services remain in demand. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that the Celtics are willing to part ways with him and that “his hiring could be finalized as soon as the next 24-to-48 hours.”
That arrangement would seem to be the best outcome for all involved. Udoka not only gets to coach again but joins a team with two superstars on its roster and a shot to battle what would be his former employer in the playoffs. The Nets land a head coach just a season removed from a Finals appearance. And the Celtics avoid having to make a decision about either firing Udoka after this season or bringing him back and facing more questions about his suspension a year from now.