There were more than five open head coach jobs when reports surfaced that the Boston Celtics were hiring Brooklyn Nets assistant Ime Udoka to replace Brad Stevens on the bench.
Udoka has been a rising star in the coaching ranks over the last few years, and it was obvious from his tone and body language Monday morning that he's very excited to be getting his first head coach opportunity with a franchise like the Celtics.
In fact, he viewed the Celtics as the top job available. He explained why during his introductory press conference Monday.
"When all the job openings happened this summer I think it was pretty evident that Boston was the most attractive based on the organization, the history, the expectations but also the players and the roster," Udoka said.
He also noted how the presence of two young All-Star players in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown factored into the Celtics' coach job being quite attractive.
"You have two foundational young pillars like those two, it's exciting to build around them, continue to help them grow and reach their potential," Udoka said. "The sky is the limit with those two. We're excited to work with them and see them continue to grow throughout their careers."
One thing that should help Udoka make a strong transition to the Celtics is the relationships he's built with some of the players.
He coached Tatum, Brown and Marcus Smart at Team USA practices and events as part of Gregg Popovich's staff. He got to know Al Horford during his time as a Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach in 2019-20. Udoka also has known Payton Pritchard "since he was a young kid in Portland."
The chance to coach a historic franchise with a quality roster headlined by two top 20 players helped make the Celtics a top destination once Stevens replaced Danny Ainge as team president of basketball operations earlier this month.
It allowed them to bring in a very qualified and respected coach in Udoka, who has all the skills required to maximize the potential of not only Tatum and Brown, but the entire roster entering a pivotal 2021-22 campaign for the franchise.