Ime Udoka hires Royal Ivey as first assistant coach for Rockets

Days after an ESPN report initially linked Nets assistant Royal Ivey to a similar job with the Houston Rockets, it seems new head coach Ime Udoka was able to close the deal. Udoka and Ivey had worked together in Brooklyn during the 2020-21 season under Steve Nash.

“Nets assistant coach Royal Ivey will be joining Ime Udoka’s staff with the Rockets, sources told ESPN,” Tim MacMahon tweeted Thursday morning. “Ivey, who played college ball at Texas, has strong relationships with players across the league.”

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On paper, it’s a strong hire for Udoka, who was able to lure an assistant coach from an Eastern Conference playoff team to Houston in what is effectively a lateral move. With the hire, Ivey becomes the first confirmed assistant for Udoka’s new-look Rockets staff.

Ivey, 41, does have ties to Texas, having played at the University of Texas from 2000 through 2004. A defensive-minded guard, Ivey played for four NBA teams over an 11-year playing career before transitioning to coaching in 2014. After that, he worked as an assistant for the Nets, New York Knicks, and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Other coaches potentially linked to the Udoka’s staff include John Lucas and Mahmoud Abdelfattah from last season’s crop of Houston assistants under Stephen Silas, as well as Ben Sullivan and Aaron Miles from Boston (where Udoka was the head coach in 2021-22).

Because the Celtics are still playing in the 2023 playoffs, any potential hire from that staff is likely to wait until their season concludes.


Former Hornets head coach James Borrego, once an assistant alongside Udoka for San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, could also be an option. However, because Borrego has interviewed for multiple current vacancies at head coach, he’s likely to allow those processes to play out before turning his focus to any assistant possibilities.


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Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire