Boston Celtics majority owner Wyc Grousbeck said Friday that head coach Ime Udoka’s season-long suspension came after an outside investigation found “substantial” evidence that Udoka violated team rules.

The suspension resulted from what ESPN reported was a consensual relationship with an unidentified employee. Grusbeck and team president Brad Stevens spoke to the media on Friday but did not confirm the reason for the suspension.

Grausbeck said that after the team heard reports of potential rules violations by Udoka, the Celtics brought in a law firm to conduct an independent investigation.

“We have strong values ​​at the Celtics, and we’re doing everything we can to uphold them here,” he said.

“I personally believe that it is fully justified and appropriate, supported by significant research, evidence and facts, and therefore I stand by the decision,” he continued.

Grusbeck said Udoka’s suspension will last until June 30. He did not specify whether the suspension was unpaid, but said it comes with a “significant financial penalty.”

And he also did not guarantee that Udoka, 45, would ever return to the bench.

“Later we will decide on Ime’s future with us,” he said.

Stevens, who coached the Celtics from 2013-21 before moving up, confirmed that Joe Mazzula, 34, an assistant coach under Udok, will lead the Celtics next season

“This is not an easy time for him or for the rest of the staff, but he is an exceptionally insightful and talented individual,” Stevens said.

While Celtics officials have not confirmed that his relationship with a woman was the reason for the suspension, Stephens became emotional as he apologized to the female staff. On Thursday, social media ran wild with speculation about which woman might have been linked to Udok, with users posting photos of various team members.

“We have a lot of talented women in our organization and I thought yesterday was a really tough day for them,” Stevens said. “I think you know nobody can control the speculation on Twitter, but I think we have a responsibility as an organization to make sure we’re there to support them right now because a lot of people have been wronged involved in it.’

In his first season as head coach in 2021-22, Udoka led the Celtics to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games. Boston finished the regular season 51-31 before beating the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat in the playoffs.

Udoka previously served as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs (2012-19), Philadelphia 76ers (2019-20) and Nets (2020-21) following a seven-year playing career in the NBA.

He made a statement on Thursday.

“I want to apologize to our players, the fans, the entire Celtics organization and my family for letting them down,” he said. “I regret putting the team in this difficult situation and I accept the team’s decision.”

Udoka has been engaged to actress Nia Long since 2015, and they have a son. On Friday, she made the first statement in this regard.

“The love and support from my family, friends and community during this difficult time means so much to me,” Long told People magazine. “I ask that you respect my privacy while I describe the latest developments. First and foremost, I am a mother and I will continue to focus on my children.”

–Field-level media

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