Report: Rafael Stone sold Ime Udoka on Houston partnership over Toronto, other NBA teams

Report: Rafael Stone sold Ime Udoka on Houston partnership over Toronto, other NBA teams

When the Toronto Raptors fired Nick Nurse, an accomplished head coach who won the 2019 NBA title there, part of their reported thinking was a desire to pursue former Celtics coach Ime Udoka.

Udoka, 45, was widely viewed as one of the league’s best young coaches after taking Boston to the 2022 NBA Finals. He lost his job a few months later due to an improper workplace relationship.

But after missing the 2022-23 season, neither the Celtics nor the league office reportedly saw anything that would preclude Udoka from taking a future job. With that, he was clearly a desired candidate for both the Raptors and Houston Rockets, who had fired Stephen Silas.

Ultimately, Udoka chose Houston. As for the reasoning, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski explains in his latest story:

The hiring is a coup for Rockets general manager Rafael Stone, who helped sell Udoka on the franchise’s young talent, salary cap space and the chance at winning the draft lottery, and selecting generational talent Victor Wembanyama.

Udoka and Stone moved quickly toward a partnership upon an initial meeting recently, sources said. Udoka decided against pursuing the Toronto job — and other potential openings in this hiring cycle, sources said. The Brooklyn Nets considered hiring Udoka in the aftermath of an early-season firing of Steve Nash, but ultimately decided to promote interim coach Jacque Vaughn.

“Udoka’s ability to galvanize a locker room and command respect were an immense part of his appeal to the Rockets and the marketplace,” Woj writes in the ESPN article.

The hiring of Udoka would also seem to speak well to Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, who likely had to offer a fairly significant contract in order for Udoka to choose Houston over other options.


Woj: Rockets probed Ime Udoka’s Boston scandal before offering job

Reaction: Rockets hire Ime Udoka as head coach, replacing Stephen Silas

Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire