Report: How Celtics stars played key role in Ime Udoka hire


What's the best way to land the NBA's most coveted head coach opening? Earning the support of that team's best players is a good place to start.

The Boston Celtics reportedly are finalizing an agreement to make Brooklyn Nets assistant Ime Udoka their next head coach. The 43-year-old is well-respected in league circles and also has the experience of coaching three Celtics stars: Udoka was an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich at the 2019 FIBA World Cup for a Team USA roster featuring Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart.

NBA Twitter reacts to Celtics' reported Udoka hire

It appears that experience helped land Udoka the job. Stadium's Jeff Goodman reported earlier this week that Tatum, Brown and Smart all have "spoken highly" of Udoka, while ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that Udoka received "significant support" from Celtics players during the interview process.

According to the Boston Herald's Mark Murphy, Tatum, Brown and Smart all were consulted about the possibility of hiring Udoka and apparently signed off on the move.

New Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens -- whom Udoka will replace after Stevens' eight seasons as head coach -- said recently he's been in "very close contact" with Tatum and Brown specifically over the past two weeks, so there's a good chance Udoka came up in those conversations.

Udoka wasn't the biggest name on Boston's coaching radar -- the team reportedly had strong interest in former All-Star Chauncey Billups, as well -- but after a frustrating season plagued by chemistry issues, it makes sense the Celtics would target a candidate who can work well their players and most importantly has their stamp of approval.

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