NBA

Celtics' Udoka facing possible suspension for improper relationship with female staffer: reports

Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka had what was deemed as an "improper intimate and consensual relationship" with a female employee within the organization, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Thursday morning.

45-year-old led Boston to NBA Finals in 1st season as head coach

Head coach Ime Udoka of the Boston Celtics looks on during the game against the Golden State Warriors at Chase Centre in San Francisco. (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The Boston Celtics are planning to discipline coach Ime Udoka, likely with a suspension, because of an improper relationship with a member of the organization, two people with knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the reigning Eastern Conference champions have not revealed any details publicly. The exact punishment, including the length of the possible suspension, has not been determined.

One of the people who spoke with the AP said the Celtics have decided that assistant coach Joe Mazzulla will take over the team on an interim basis if Udoka is suspended.

CBC Sports has not independently confirmed the reports.

ESPN first reported Wednesday night that a suspension was under consideration for the team policy violation. ESPN and The Athletic later reported that the Celtics' investigation revolves around whether Udoka had an inappropriate relationship with a member of the organization.

Losing Udoka would be a significant blow to a team that is widely considered among the favourites to contend for an NBA title this season, after falling only two games short of winning the championship last season in his debut year.

The Celtics open training camp on Tuesday. If Udoka will not be allowed to lead the team, the task would almost certainly fall to one of his assistants. A possible candidate, Joe Mazzulla, interviewed for the Utah Jazz coaching job this summer, a position that ultimately went to Will Hardy — who was Udoka's assistant in Boston last season.

Udoka's other assistant coaches are Damon Stoudamire, Ben Sullivan, Aaron Miles and Tony Dobbins.

Udoka had a brilliant first season as coach of the Celtics, finishing the regular season at 51-31 — going 26-6 in the final 32 games — and leading Boston past Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Miami on the way to the NBA Finals. The Celtics lost the title series to the Golden State Warriors in six games.

It's the second major disciplinary situation in as many weeks in the NBA, following the decision last week by Commissioner Adam Silver to suspend Robert Sarver — the owner of the Phoenix Suns and WNBA's Phoenix Mercury — for one year and fine him $10 million US after an investigation showed his pattern of disturbing workplace conduct, including abusive and racist language. Sarver said Wednesday he intends to sell his teams.

With files from CBC Sports

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