This is the time of year where a lot of people move around in the NBA, and there are always some Golden State Warriors connections. Sometimes it’s as blatant as their former lottery pick and current assistant general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. getting promoted to GM, which hasn’t happened yet but quite possibly will. Sometimes it’s a poaching, such as Warriors assistant Jama Mahlalela returning to the Toronto Raptors to take a lead assistant role.
And sometimes it’s a little bit more obscure. That happened this week when it was announced that Ekpe Udoh was joining the Atlanta Hawks as an assistant coach.
Udoh was the No. 6 pick in 2010 by the Warriors, or, as a sign of how weird drafts can be, the Warriors lottery pick that sandwiched Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. A 23 year old when he debuted, Udoh was viewed as a strong defensive player, though he didn’t play all that much as a rookie. During his second year he was included in the franchise-altering trade that sent him (and most notably, Monta Ellis) to the Milwaukee Bucks for Andrew Bogut (Kwame Brown and Stephen Jackson were also included in the deal).
He bounced around the league after that, and finished his career having played in seven NBA seasons over nine years for four teams. Since playing his last NBA game for the Utah Jazz during the 2018-19 season, Udoh has played professionally in China, Japan, and Italy, most recently earlier this year for the Kyoto Hannaryz. He also had a stint in the middle of his NBA career playing for Fenerbahçe, where he won the 2017 EuroLeague championship and was named the EuroLeague Final Four MVP, while also making First-Team All-EuroLeague.
A return to the NBA as an assistant coach likely signals the end of a playing career for Udoh, who is 36, but a role on an NBA bench is a pretty awesome opportunity. He joins a stacked Hawks coaching staff that features, among others, respected head coach Quin Snyder, a former head coach in Igor Kokoskov, and Mike Brey, the former head coach at Notre Dame for 23 years.
Best of luck, Ekpe!