Report: Rockets were willing to outbid other teams for Ime Udoka

Though he ultimately signed with the Houston Rockets, former Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka had plenty of interest from various teams during this cycle of NBA vacancies.

One reported suitor for Udoka was the Toronto Raptors, who on paper have a much more competitive team than the young and rebuilding Rockets. So, why did Udoka choose Houston?

Some of it has to do with the roster’s promising core of young talent, which should improve as the years progress. Another factor is a high lottery pick in the 2023 draft and a league-leading figure of ~$60 million in salary cap room entering 2023 free agency.

Another aspect of the decision, however, likely came down to cold, hard cash being paid to Udoka from Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta. Houston is reportedly paying Udoka $28.5 million over the next four years, which is one of the NBA’s top 10 salaries for head coaches.

Per Michael Scotto, that figure could be a bit more than what other teams would pay. On the HoopsHype podcast, Scotto said:

We’ve seen Nurse and Vogel get linked with Houston in their head coaching search before they went in a different direction with Ime Udoka, who also drew interest from Toronto. It seemed like Houston was ready to move, and in that scenario there were some rumblings out there that Houston was willing to pay a little bit more for that job. I think that and the urgency they had to get a deal done moved the needle there.

Houston’s willingness to spend could also help the Rockets as they look to hire the right pool of assistant coaches for Udoka’s bench.

For more interviews with NBA players, coaches, and media members, be sure to like and subscribe to the HoopsHype podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and anywhere else you listen to podcasts. The complete podcast can be listened to below, and some transcribed snippets of the conversation are available at HoopsHype.


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Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire