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Stein: ‘Strong voices’ urge Joe Tsai to ‘back off’ hiring Ime Udoka as next Nets coach

Golden State Warriors Vs Boston Celtics At TD Garden Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

With the Kyrie Irving controversy still raging, Marc Stein reports that there are “strong voices” — apparently at the NBA headquarters — urging Joe Tsai not to hire Ime Udoka as Steve Nash’s replacement. The NBA apparently doesn’t need another Nets controversy.

Stein tweeted late Sunday night...

Assuming said “voices” are those of NBA officialdom, the sentiment is unsurprising. Irving’s tweet promoting an antisemitic video has exhausted virtually everyone involved, from Nets fans up to the commissioner’s office in Manhattan’s Olympic Tower.

Adding a new element of drama — hiring a coach who’s on a one-year suspension for a “volume of violations” of another NBA team’s code of conduct — would likely lead to a new round of questions for the organization — and the league, this one related to charges involving sexual impropriety.

NetsDaily has confirmed the Stein tweet and that the “strong voices” he noted are coming from inside the commissioner’s office.

After Nash was dumped last Tuesday, both Shams Charania and Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Nets were in contact with Udoka and predicted the hire could be announced as early as Wednesday. Sean Marks at the time denied a decision had been made. On Friday, Marks was asked about the team’s coaching search since firing Steve Nash on Tuesday. His response was short and sweet.

“I think we deal with that on another time,” Marks said with a chuckle.

In a follow-up on his substack Monday, Stein said that Udoka is not just the favorite of Marks but also Kevin Durant. He also reported that Udoka had to give up half of his estimated $4 million salary as part of his suspension.

Udoka, though, is believed to be the preferred choice of not only GM Sean Marks but also Nets star Kevin Durant. Udoka’s hiring was initially regarded as a mere formality in the wake of Nash’s exit last Tuesday, but his expected deal with the Nets has yet to materialize.

In the interim: League sources say that Udoka’s season-long suspension from the Celtics, imposed because of a relationship with a female co-worker that Boston officials deemed a violation of team rules, called for him to forfeit half of his estimated $4 million salary. The Celtics declined comment when asked by The Stein Line to confirm those specific stipulations of the suspension.

The most recent news break on the hiring process also came Friday when Woj told Malika Andrews on NBA Today that the Nets were “on the brink” of hiring Udoka, but that there was still some “vetting” to be done on the charges that led to the Celtics suspension. The Nets reportedly began gathering intelligence on Udoka’s situation in September as the Celtics investigation began to heat up.

Udoka’s name is the only one seriously mentioned as Nash’s replacement. Quin Snyder, who left the Jazz over the summer, was initially discussed but subsequent reports contended that the Nets had not approached Snyder. The other possibility, of course, is that the Nets retain interim head coach Jacque Vaughn for the rest of the season.

According to a league source, several women spoke up at a BSE Global staff meeting last week, concerned about the potential hire. As Brian Lewis reports, the Nets and BSE Global staff directory has a number of highly placed women. “led by vice chair Clara Wu Tsai (Tsai’s wife), the chief HR officer, four executive vice presidents and four vice presidents. Wu Tsai is a philanthropic investor and active in numerous social justice issues.”