Celtics suspend coach Ime Udoka for 2022-23 season
FILE - Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, center left, talks with players during the first half of Game 2 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco, Sunday, June 5, 2022. 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, Sept. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn, File)

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Celtics have suspended coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season, effective immediately, and with no guarantee he will be back with the franchise.

The Celtics said Thursday night that Udoka was suspended for "violations of team policies." Earlier Thursday, two people with knowledge of the matter said Udoka was being sanctioned because of an improper relationship with a member of the organisation. Those people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not reveal that detail publicly.

"A decision about his future with the Celtics beyond this season will be made at a later date," the Celtics said.

Udoka, in a statement published by ESPN, apologised but did not offer detail.

"I want to apologise to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organisation, and my family for letting them down. I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team's decision. Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment," he said.

One of the people who spoke with The AP said Celtics assistant coach Joe Mazzulla will take over on an interim basis.

Udoka had a brilliant first season with 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.

Losing Udoka is going to be a significant blow to a team that is widely considered among the favourites to contend for an NBA title this season.

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