Boston Celtics boss Wiik Grosbeck said the organization’s decision to suspend Im Udoka for the entire 2022-23 NBA season comes after an independent law firm investigated multiple violations of team policies.
“I am concerned about the situation in the Celtics organization and its impact on everyone,” Grosbeck said during a news conference Friday morning at the team’s practice facility. “I hope this represents the beginning of a new chapter, and a chance to turn the page and move forward with things that are somewhat resolved.”
Brad Stevens, president of basketball operations for both Grousebeck and the Celtics, said little about the specifics of the case, or what policies Udoka violated. Sources previously told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Udoka had a close relationship with a female member of the franchise’s staff.
Grosbeck said that once the organization was made aware of a possible situation at the organization within the past few weeks, it hired the law firm to conduct the investigation, which concluded Wednesday.
It was at this point that the team decided to suspend Udoka for the entire season, with Grosbeck stating that the suspension would end on June 30, 2023 – the final day of the 2022–23 league year. He said it would come with a “significant” financial penalty, and that no one other than Udoka was going to be disciplined within the organization as a result of the investigation.
Beyond that, however, both Grossbeck and Stevens offered some specifics as to what happened and how the decision was made, and neither would they discuss what would happen if Udoka had to return to the organization after his suspension ended. , saying only that it would be discussed “at a later date”, as the team said in its statement Thursday night.
Stevens also declined to answer when asked directly whether Udoka would be able to have contact with anyone within the organization during his suspension.
However, Grousebeck defended the decision to suspend Udoka for the entire season, saying that on several occasions it was the right result.
“We’re not going to get involved in our discussions,” Grosbeck said. “It felt right, but there’s no clear guideline for any of it. It’s conscience and gut feeling.
“We came to this collectively and got there but it wasn’t clear what to do but it was clear that something needed to be done, and it was.”
Stevens began her remarks by getting emotional while speaking about the impact it has had on women across the organization over the past few days.
“It’s been a tough time,” Stevens said. “The only thing I would like to say is that I thought, and Wyc already mentioned it, we have a lot of talented women in our organization and I thought [Thursday] It was really hard on them.
“No one can control the Twitter speculation and the massive bullshit— but I think as an organization we have a responsibility to support them now, because a lot of people have been unfairly dragged into it. went.”
“I hope this represents the beginning of a new chapter, and a chance to turn the page and move forward with things that are somewhat resolved.”
Wyc Grousbeck, owner of the Celtics
Stevens confirmed that assistant coach Joe Mazulla, 34, will take over on an interim basis. Mazulla is tied with former Celtics assistant and current Utah Jazz head coach Will Hardy as the youngest coach in the league. Mazula’s only head-coaching experience is two seasons at Division II College at Fairmont State, West Virginia, before being hired by Stevens as an assistant in 2019.
Still, Stevens believes Mazulla is the right person.
“Who’s going to be in charge,” Stevens said. “It’s not an easy time for him or the rest of the staff. But he’s an exceptionally quick and talented person. I love him and his ability to lead people, his ability to galvanize a room and go after them, and his I firmly believe in organizing and understanding everything that comes with running a team during the season.”
Stevens was asked if he considers taking over, given that he spent eight years coaching the Celtics and had three years before replacing Danny Ange and appointing Udoka as coach last summer. Barr took the Eastern Conference Finals. Stevens said he didn’t – although Grousebeck said the two had a brief conversation about it.
“There are a lot of factors at play as to why I don’t want to do this,” Stevens said. “But I feel like — and I’ve told this to Joe — I’m going to be there for him as much as he needs to, without ever stepping on his toes.
“But he doesn’t need much. I believe in him strongly.”
Stevens addressed Mazulla’s arrest while he was a student at West Virginia University. He was arrested in 2008 for underage drinking and aggravated assault, a case in which he pleaded guilty and paid a fine, and again in 2009 for domestic battery after an incident at the Morgantown bar, a case that court Was sorted out and ‘ do not go to trial.
When he hired Mazulla as an assistant coach in 2019, Stevens said he “thoroughly” investigated Mazulla, and those incidents in particular, and said he believes Mazulla has learned from him and Stevens himself personally believes in Mazulla’s character.
“I’ll tell you this: I believe strongly in the originality of Joe as a person,” Stevens said. “I firmly believe, and he will tell you, he has been very open with me about how those moments affected him in every way and you can see it the way he does himself. We’ve got years to know him.
“I firmly believe that maybe he shaped her into a really, really good way. But he’ll be the first to tell you, he’s 110% responsible for it, and I’ll be the first to tell you that I believe in him.” “
Grosbeck said both he and Stevens have met with players ahead of training camp starting next week and added that he would characterize their feelings as “very concerned” about what has happened.
“It’s not a welcome development,” Grosbeck said.
“But they also have, I felt, the energy and focus and commitment and drive to achieve great things hopefully this season. So I’m feeling that commitment from the players and I bet, based on last year’s.” But based on what else we know about them, I think we’ll be complete.”