Former Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka has reportedly been hired as the next head coach of the Houston Rockets, sources with knowledge of the deal confirmed to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday (April 24).
The move comes weeks after the Rockets declined former head coach Stephen Silas' fourth-year option, concluding his three-year tenure with the franchise, on April 9.
"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," Wojnarowski tweeted.
Udoka served a team-enforced season-long suspension for what was initially described as "an unspecified violation of organizational guidelines" at the time of Wojnarowski's initial report in September, just days before the Celtics' first game of the 2022-23 regular-season.
The Athletic's Shams Charania initially reported that Udoka "had an improper intimate and consensual relationship with a female member of the team staff," which led to the franchise looking into potential disciplinary action, following Wojnarowski's initial report. Charania later removed "consensual" from his description of the relationship and had since cited sources who claimed that "the woman recently accused Udoka of making unwanted comments toward her."
Udoka was hired as the Celtics' head coach last offseason, replacing Brad Stevens, who was promoted to president of basketball operations following longtime team team president Danny Ainge's retirement. Boston went 51-31 during the 2021-22 regular season and defeated the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat to win the Eastern Conference title before being eliminated by the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
Former assistant coach Joe Mazzulla was named Celtics interim head coach amid Udoka's suspension before being promoted full-time in February, with Boston finishing the regular-season with a 57-25 overall record.