Is Ime Udoka’s New Job With The Houston Rockets His NBA Redemption Song Or Yet Another Fall From Grace?

Ime Udoka reportedly has landed a new NBA head coaching gig in H-Town with the Houston Rockets putting to rest his abrupt dismissal from the league after being let go by the Boston Celtics.

His return to a head coaching position feels like a redemption from the purgatory the Celtics inflicted on his career based on the alleged improprieties with a staffer. Additionally, Udoka had a very public relationship with actress Nia Long, who was also devastated by the revelations, which dissolved their relationship.

The Houston Rockets, in conjunction with the league office, investigated the incidents surrounding Udoka’s suspension and dismissal for an improper workplace relationship before making the job offer, per reports. Udoka led the Celtics to an NBA Finals appearance against Golden State in his first season as one of only a few coaches to achieve early success as a rookie head coach.

Return Of The Udoka

With the Houston Rockets having gone 22-60 last season, his blessing of a return also comes with the curse of having to turn around a franchise after soaring with one in Boston. If the team doesn’t do better or improve with new talent acquisitions, his reputation could suffer from more losing seasons once under his watch.

Udoka had options that came then also fizzled as he was considering a job with the Toronto Raptors after the Brooklyn Nets, who were also interested at one time, decided to promote interim coach Jacque Vaughn. The Nets made it to the playoffs, and even though they no longer have Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, or James Harden, the Nets are still in a primary media market with a better record than the Rockets.

The other candidates in the running for the Rockets job were former Charlotte coach James Borrego and former Lakers coach Frank Vogel, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Udoka met Rockets general manager Rafael Stone who sold him quickly after an initial meeting on the team’s young talent and salary cap space. The Rockets also are in the running to win a high draft lottery pick in which all roads lead to highly sought talent Victor Wembanyama. The possibilities sold Udoka.

The Next Chapter

With one of the worst records in the Western Conference and one of the bottom three overall, the Rockets have a 14% chance at the No. 1 overall pick and the rights to draft Victor Wembanyama. There is also Scoot Henderson, a guard for G League Ignite, a five-star recruit from the class of 2022. Even if that didn’t work out, the Rockets have compiled a lot of future draft capital. They could trade for multiple high-impact veterans in the offseason, which is another possibility.

In short, Udoka could make the team his own.

Udoka is a winner. He led the Celtics to a 51-31 record and is one of five rookie head coaches to reach the NBA Finals in the past 25 years. After helping the Celtics lead the league into a defensive powerhouse just one season ago and a top-10 finish offensively, Udoka can either rebound and lead the Rockets into a new era or sink with a team in need of resuscitation.

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