Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck said the organization’s decision to suspend Ime Udoka for the entire 2022-23 NBA season came after an investigation by an independent law firm exposed multiple violations of team policies.
“I am concerned about the situation and its impact on everyone at the Celtics,” Grosbeek said during a news conference Friday morning at the team’s training center. “I hope this marks the beginning of a new chapter, and an opportunity to turn the page and move on to sorting things out somewhat.”
Grosbeek and Celtics, head of basketball operations, Brad Stevens, said little about the specifics of the issue in question, or the policies Odoka violated. Sources previously told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Udoka had an intimate relationship with one of the franchise employees.
Once the organization became aware of a potential situation in the organization over the past few weeks, Grosbeek said, it hired an independent law firm to conduct an investigation – an investigation he said ended on Wednesday.
At that point, the team opted to suspend Udoka for a full season, with Grousbeck saying it would end on June 30, 2023 – the last day of the 2022-23 league season. He said he would come with a “significant” financial penalty, and that no one besides Odoka within the organization would be disciplined as a result of the investigation.
Other than that, both Grousbeck and Stevens have given few details about what happened and how the decision was made, and will not discuss what it will take for Udoka to return to the organization after his suspension ends, saying only that it will be a “at a later date” research as the team said in its Thursday night statement. .
Stevens also declined to answer when asked directly if Odoka would be able to contact anyone within the organization during his suspension.
However, Grosbeek defended the decision to suspend Odoka for the entire season, saying on multiple occasions it was the right result.
“We’re not going to get into our deliberations,” Grosbeek said. “I felt like this was true, but there are no clear guidelines for any of this. It is a sense of conscience and membranes.
“We came to this en masse and got there but it wasn’t clear what to do but it was clear that there was something substantial to do, and it was.”
Stevens began his remarks with empathy, talking about the impact the past two days had had on women throughout the organization.
“It was a tough time,” Stevens said. “The only thing I would say is that I thought and Wyc mentioned it already, we have a lot of talented women in our organization and I thought [Thursday] It was really hard for them.
“No one can control Twitter speculation and rampant bulls—but I think we as an organization have a responsibility to support them now, because so many people have been unfairly dragged into it.”
“I hope this marks the beginning of a new chapter, and an opportunity to turn the page and move on to sorting things out somewhat.”
Wyc Grousbeck, owner of Celtics
Stevens confirmed that assistant coach Joe Mazzola, 34, will take over temporarily. Mazola is associated with former Celtics assistant and current Utah Jazz coach Will Hardy as the league’s youngest coach. Mazola’s only coaching experience is two seasons at Division Two College, Vermont State in West Virginia, before being hired by Stevens as an assistant in 2019.
Still, Stevens thinks Mazola is the right guy.
“Joe will be in charge,” Stevens said. “It’s not an easy timing for him or the rest of the staff. But he is an exceptionally sharp and talented person. I believe in him deeply and his ability to lead people, his ability to rally the room and stand behind him, his ability to organize and understand everything that comes with managing a team during the season.”
Stevens was asked if he was considering taking over, given that he spent eight years coaching the Celtics and leading them to the Eastern Conference Finals three times before moving on to replace Danny Inji last summer and hiring Odoka as coach. Stevens said he didn’t – although Grosbeek said there was a brief conversation between the two of them about it.
“There are a lot of factors that play into why I don’t necessarily want to do this,” Stevens said. “But I think that–and I’ve told Joe this–I’ll be there for him, without walking on his toes, as much as he needs.
“But it doesn’t need much. I believe it very much.”
Stevens addressed Mazola’s arrests while he was a student at West Virginia University. He was arrested in 2008 for drinking and aggravated assault, a case in which he pleaded guilty and paid a fine, and then in 2009 for domestic beatings after an incident at a Morgantown bar, a case that was settled out of court and did not. t go for trial.
When he hired Mazzulla as assistant coach in 2019, Stevens said he had “meticulously” examined Mazzulla, and those incidents in particular, and said he believed Mazzulla had learned from them and that Stevens himself personally believed in Mazzulla’s character.
“I’ll tell you this: I really believe in the essentiality of Joe as a person,” Stevens said. “I strongly believe, and he’ll tell you, he’s been very open with me about how those moments affected him in every way and you can see that the way he carries himself. You can see that for a long time. We’ve spent years getting to know him.”
“I firmly believe that this may have shaped him for what he is today in a really good way. But he will be the first to tell you, he is 110% responsible for that, and I will be the first to tell you who I believe in.”
Grosbeek said he and Stevens met the players ahead of training camp that begins next week and said he would describe their feelings as “extremely concerned” about what happened.
It’s not a welcome development,” Grosbeck said.
“But they also, I felt, have the energy, focus, commitment and drive to do really great things I hope this season. So that’s the commitment I feel from the players and I bet, based on the last year and based on everything we know about them, I think we will.”