Boston Celtics owner Wes Grosbeek says coach Im Odoka’s suspension was the result of a months-long investigation

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 facility to discuss the decision to suspend Odoka.

“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 with 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 also added that this would be accompanied by a “significant” fine, 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 they won’t discuss what it will take for Udoka to return to the organization after his suspension ends, only saying it will be. The search was “at a later date,” the team said in its Thursday evening 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 several 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.”

For his part, Stevens began his remarks with an emotional talk about the impact the previous two days 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 yesterday it was really hard for them.

“No one can control the Twitter bullish 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 also confirmed that assistant coach Joe Mazzola will take over on a temporary basis. The 34-year-old is now linked to former Celtics assistant and current Utah Jazz head coach Will Hardy as the league’s youngest coach, and his only coaching experience is two seasons at Division II college, Vermont State in West. Virginia, before being hired by Stevens as an assistant in 2019.

However, Stevens believes Mazzola is the right person to lead the team forward.

“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 – leading them to the Eastern Conference Finals on three different occasions – before moving upstairs to his current role to replace Danny Inji last summer, hiring Odoka. to replace him. Stevens immediately said he didn’t – although Grosbeek said there was a “brief” conversation between the two 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 told Joe this–I’d be there for him without erring on his toes as much as he needed.

“But it doesn’t need much. I believe it very much.”

Stevens has also dealt with Mazola arrests while in college at West Virginia University – once, in 2008, for underage drinking and aggravated assault, a case in which he pleaded guilty and paid a fine, and then in 2009 for domestic battery after an accident at a Morgantown bar , a case that was settled out of court and not tried.

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.”

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