After firing Stephen Silas a couple of weeks ago, the Rockets have been actively looking for the best suitor to coach their team as the franchise, who ended the season with a 22-60 record, is in need of a reconstruction. This Monday it was reported that Ime Udoka has agreed on a deal to step in as head coach.
The agreement comes after the former Celtics trainer was suspended and later dismissed by the Boston club as was reportedly caught having a workplace relationship. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Texan team probed with the league’s officials about this pending situation before making the job offer.
Even though Udoka has only endured one season as head coach, he was still able to lead Boston last year to a NBA Finals appearance against Golden State, losing the series 4-2.
For Houston’s general manager Rafael Stone, this hiring comes as a huge accomplishment, considering that he convinced their new boss about the team’s salary cap space, the opportunity of winning the draft lottery (and possibly French sensation Victor Wembanyama), and most importantly, the club’s young talent.
Sources say that their negotiations escalated very quickly upon the first time they met. “Udoka decided against pursuing the Toronto Raptors job — and other potential openings in this hiring cycle,” NBA insider Wojnarowski said. “The Brooklyn Nets considered hiring Udoka in the aftermath of the early-season firing of Steve Nash, but ultimately decided to promote interim coach Jacque Vaughn.”
Stone sees the potential in Udoka to shock this locker room and instill some order in this team, both within the players as of the their appealing market. Back in the 2021/23 campaign, Udoka guided Boston to a 51-31 record, becoming one of the five rookie coaches to ever reach the NBA Finals in the past 25 years.
His mark on the Celtics franchise doesn’t stop there, as he also led the team to become the NBA’s No.1 in defensive efficiency last year and a top 10 in offense. As for Houston, they finished in the bottom five of both categories this campaign.
Both Frank Vogel and James Borrego were part of the coaching search
According to sources, two former NBA coaches were also prominent members of the Rockets’ coaching search comittee, as ex-Lakers trainer Frank Vogel and former Charlotte coach James Borrego led the study.
The Celtics team were also probed by the Houston administration before making the offer, as they saw fit for him to finally return to coaching.
“An 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 a subordinate, an element that significantly factored into the severity of Udoka’s initial suspension,” sources told ESPN back in September.
These findings were considered especially concerning coming from a workplace superior, and eventually contributed for Udoka not to be reinstalled as the Boston boss.
Antonio is a life long sports enthusiast and professional journalist, who shares an obssesive urge to find and dig up the most interesting facts to guide gamblers towards more exciting, yet safe bets. In his own words, ''you can never really know enough about the things you love''.