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Rockets Hire Ime Udoka as Next Head Coach

Ime Udoka coached the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals last season, and now he joins the Houston Rockets.

2022 NBA Finals-Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics Photo by Annette Grant/NBAE via Getty Images

Ime Udoka is back on the NBA coaching market, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

ESPN Sources: Ime Udoka has agreed to a deal to become the next Houston Rockets coach.

Rockets and Udoka moved fairly quickly toward each other after initial meeting, sources tell ESPN. Udoka and GM Rafael Stone kept talking on job. Both sides had some strong options in the marketplace but a deal got done in the last 24 hours to land Udoka with the Rockets. Young talent, cap space and a 14 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick were part of a strong case to lure Udoka.

The move comes after the Rockets fired Stephen Silas following three underwhelming seasons with the team. Now, the Rockets are bringing Udoka to the bench after a successful season with the Boston Celtics.

Udoka, a Portland native and former Trail Blazers forward, spent a decade as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets before the Celtics hired him to replace Brad Stevens in 2021.

Udoka went 51-31 last season with the Celtics and led them to the NBA Finals before losing in six games to the Golden State Warriors. He appeared to be one of the rising coaches in the league, but after violating team policies, he was suspended by the Celtics for the whole season and replaced by interim coach Joe Mazzulla. In February, Mazzulla’s interim tag was removed and he became the full-time coach, relieving Udoka of his duties.

Now, Udoka has a fresh start with the Rockets as he hopes to bring them out of the doldrums of the NBA.