Not that there was any doubt about it, but it looks like Ime Udoka’s days are just about officially over in Boston.
On Tuesday, the Brooklyn Nets fired head coach Steve Nash and will reportedly hire suspended Celtics coach Ime Udoka to fill his void.
The Celtics granted the Nets permission to speak to Udoka and will allow him to leave freely, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
While this means the end of the Udoka era in Boston, it also likely starts the full-time Joe Mazzulla era – and after a 4-2 start, his Coach of the Year odds have begun to rise according to BetOnline.ag:
2022-2023 NBA Coach of the Year Odds
Will Hardy +700
Willie Green +750
Taylor Jenkins +800
JB Bickerstaff +900
Joe Mazzulla +1000
Chauncey Billups +1200
Prior to the season starting, I wrote about Mazzulla’s odds to win the award. At the time, he had 16/1 odds:
We all know how the NBA works. Stars, coaches, and executives all have egos – it’s a matter of the right personalities gelling at the right time. Well according to Celtics foward Jayson Tatum, Mazzulla is incredibly important to the nucleus of this team:
“I love Joe,” Tatum said at the NBA Finals next year. “I think just being around him for the last, I think this is his third year maybe? Second or third year. You can tell how passionate he is about, you know, the guys and his craft. He’s gotten so much more knowledgeable and more detailed and just more vocal, more comfortable in his role… he’s helped me out tremendously as a player and as a person. Can’t say enough good things about Joe.”
A ringing endorsement from Boston’s best player.
This team has talent, and it seems like they have the drive to get back to the NBA Finals. Honestly, I love Mazzulla’s odds at 16/1, and might take them for myself.
After a 4-2 start, it’s clear that this team is just fine with him at the helm. With the Udoka news yesterday, I’m wondering when and if the organization strips the “interim” title from his job description and rides the Mazzulla train to the NBA Finals again.
Though it may be smart to keep their options open and see what coaches are made available in the offseason, what this team needs right now is a sense of direction after the tumultuous offseason. My take? Ride with Mazzulla and give him the job permanently.
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