Quick-hit thoughts with the Boston Celtics set to hire Ime Udoka as the 18th head coach in franchise history:
* Udoka checks all the boxes for what the Celtics should have been looking for in their next coach. He’s a former player (seven seasons of NBA experience) who spent the past nine years as an assistant on some extremely talented teams in San Antonio, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn.
* We all know what Brad Stevens thinks of Gregg Popovich and Udoka spending seven seasons under Pop undoubtedly resonated with Boston’s new president of basketball operations. The Spurs won an NBA title in 2014 with Udoka on Popovich’s staff.
* The past two seasons, the 43-year-old Udoka has gotten to work with some of the league’s elite talent from Joel Embiid in Philadelphia to Brooklyns’ super team this past year. He should be more than ready to step into the head coaching spotlight after all of his experiences and Boston swooped in to rise a 43-year-old who had high interest across the league.
* Defense appears to be Udoka’s specialty and that’s something the Celtics desperately need a re-infusion of defensive DNA after last season.
* Love this nugget from NBC Sports Boston producer Max Lederman: Udoka was 19-2 against the Celtics as an assistant coach (this after going 1-7 versus Boston as a player).
* Udoka clearly left an impression on Boston’s core after being an assistant coach for Team USA during the 2019 FIBA tournament. One of the consistent themes from those that have been around Udoka is the relationships he’s built with players at every stop and he clearly resonated with Boston’s remaining core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart.
* Stevens noted earlier this week that he’s leaned on his players for input on the coaching search. “I've stayed in close contact. I talked to several of the guys the other day right after [the Kemba Walker trade] and have been in very close contact the last couple of weeks with both Jaylen and Jayson, specifically. But that's not unusual. Like, that's pretty typical for whether I was in the coaching role or in this role.”