Skip to main content

Report: Ex-Celtics coach Udoka a serious candidate to replace Nurse

Ime Udoka Boston Celtics Ime Udoka - The Canadian Press

With Nick Nurse out as Toronto Raptors head coach, the team could turn to former Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka as his replacement.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports Udoka is expected to be a "serious candidate" for the now-vacant head coaching job in Toronto.

Wojnarowski adds that Nurse will become a prominent candidate in the Houston Rockets’ coaching search. Nurse has spent the past 10 years as part of the Raptors coaching staff, with the past five as head coach.

Udoka spent the majority of this season serving a suspension with the Celtics for an inappropriate relationship with a female staff member. He was officially replaced in February when Joe Mazzulla was named Boston’s permanent head coach.

The 45-year-old took over as Celtics coach in 2021, replacing Brad Stevens after he moved into a front-office role previously held by Danny Ainge, who is now with the Utah Jazz.

Udoka led the Celtics to their best season in years in 2021-22. Boston went 51-31 during the regular season to win the Atlantic Division and advanced all the way to the NBA Finals, where they fell to the Golden State Warriors in six games. It was the first time the Celtics had been to the Finals since losing in Game 7 to the Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers in 2010.

As a player, Udoka spent seven seasons in the NBA for five different teams, including three years with the San Antonio Spurs.

In 316 career NBA games, Udoka averaged 5.2 points and 2.9 rebounds.

After he retired from the NBA with the Spurs in 2011, Udoka joined Gregg Popovich’s staff as an assistant coach the year after and spent seven seasons on the Spurs’ bench. Udoka moved to an assistant coach role with the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2019-20 season and then spent the following season as an assistant with Brooklyn before getting the Celtics job.