Here’s Why The Nets Decided Against Making Ime Udoka Their Head Coach

It seemed a foregone conclusion that the Brooklyn Nets were going to hire Ime Udoka as the team’s head coach in the aftermath of Steve Nash’s departure. And then, the days went on, and Brooklyn did not bring the embattled Boston Celtics coach on board to fill their vacant position.

Instead, Jacque Vaughn, who has been the team’s interim head coach over the last four games, had the interim label removed from his title on Wednesday, while Udoka continues to be suspended from the Celtics following an improper relationship with a female staff member. Reports indicated that Boston was willing to let Udoka, who was an assistant coach under Nash in Brooklyn, leave for another head coaching position.

Both Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and Shams Charania of The Athletic bring word of what happened to lead to Brooklyn’s change of heart. Unsurprisingly, the circumstances that led to Udoka’s suspension in Boston played a role, as did the ongoing Kyrie Irving antisemitism controversy in Brooklyn, which has led to the former All-NBA guard receiving a suspension from the team in recent days.


The Nets backed off an initial plan to hire Udoka based on several factors, including a prolonged antisemitism controversy with Kyrie Irving coupled with the impending disruption that would’ve come with the hiring of Udoka in the aftermath of his suspension in Boston for an improper relationship with a female subordinate, sources told Wojnarowski.

Charania, meanwhile, cited “an investigation and due diligence process by the Nets into the suspended coach taking longer than initially expected, the outcry after word of their plan became known to people outside and inside the organization and the short- and long-term question marks around the team’s ability to contend in the Eastern Conference as a result of the indefinite suspension of Irving.”

Earlier this week, Marc Stein reported that Nets owner Joe Tsai received advice from “strong voices” to reconsider hiring Udoka, and ultimately the team moved in a different direction. The convergence of a number of factors seemed to result in this change, but it does raise questions about how the team initially handled looking into Udoka’s suspension and whether the longer they looked the more they found that made them have a change of heart.