Houston Rockets appoint Nigeria’s Udoka as new coach

Houston Rockets appoint Nigeria’s Udoka as new coach

Houston Rockets have agreed a deal to appoint former Boston Celtics boss Ime Udoka as their new head coach.

The 45-year-old Nigerian led the Eastern Conference side to the NBA Finals last season before he was suspended for an inappropriate relationship with a female Celtics staffer.

Udoka, who guided the Celtics to the NBA Finals in his first stint as a head coach, replaces Stephen Silas, who was fired after three seasons in charge at Houston.

He led the 17-time champions to a 51-31 record in his only season in Boston. They finished the regular season on a 26-6 run and beat the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Miami Heat in the playoffs before falling 4-2 to  eventual champions, the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.

After a seven-year NBA career that saw him play for the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs, Udoka joined coach Gregg Popovich’s staff as an assistant from 2012–19.

The 45-year-old later spent a season each as an assistant with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets before being offered the job of the Celtics head coach, replacing Brad Stevens, who took over the role of president of basketball operations for the Celtics.

Udoka has a daunting task on his hands, as the Rockets have had the league’s worst record in the previous two seasons.

They tied the Spurs for the second-worst record this season with a 22-60 win-loss record, earning another lottery pick in the 2023 NBA draft.

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