Brad Stevens gets to hire his replacement.
Stevens moves into the Celtics front office to take over for Danny Ainge, who is stepping down as team president. Stevens has work to do to repair a roster he was frustrated with all season — not liking his center options, thinking there wasn’t enough wing depth, an undersized backcourt — then hand that over to a new coach.
Who will be the next Celtics coach? Will Stevens look to the college ranks he came out of or hire an experienced NBA coach? Take a swing at the big names, or look for an under-the-radar guy who is a good fit? Expect a wide-ranging search, but here are seven names worth watching.
A long-time assistant coach, most recently under Doc Rivers in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, he is ready for his turn in the big chair somewhere. Cassell is a former Celtics player who won a ring in 2008 (plus two other titles during his career) and is respected by current players. He has ties to the organization and the pedigree to take on the job.
Kidd’s name comes up in seemingly every coaching search, and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports threw his name in this mix right off the bat. Kidd is the former head coach of the Nets and Bucks, and is currently an assistant under Frank Vogel with the Lakers. Kidd discussed what he’s learned since last in the big chair, and what he would do differently as a coach, when speaking to Marc Spears of The Undefeated.
“The biggest thing I would say in Milwaukee or Brooklyn is the way the message is delivered could have been different. Not so hard. Not so rough. A little bit more fun to it. As a competitor, you get lost into, ‘What can I do to help them win?’ And that’s all they can hear, is that, ‘He just wants to win.’ Where’s the fun? Let’s build this thing and enjoy it. You play as a player for a championship and you coach for a championship. But there’s also different parts of different environments that you are trying to build in a culture.”
Kidd wants another chance and will get it somewhere soon, if not Boston. He is well respected by players.
The former Atlanta Hawks coach was another name that came up quickly, via Chris Haynes at Yahoo. Pierce helped develop Trae Young and John Collins, is well respected in the coaching ranks, and expect him to be mentioned for a lot of job openings. He did not have a great relationship with Young, which is partly why he was let go, and the team’s defense improved almost instantly once Nate McMillan took over.
The NBA champion and Finals MVP is another former Celtics player working as an assistant coach, this time under Tyronn Lue with the Clippers. Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports said Billups would get consideration considering his ties to some players on the Celtics roster.
Boston likes to keep things in the family, and Larranaga is the longest-tenured assistant coach for the Celtics (he predates Stevens). Larranaga has interviewed for the head coaching position with other teams and is qualified for the big chair. Boston is expected to start this search with internal candidates, so Larranaga will get his chance to make his case. Other Celtics assistants Scott Morrison and Jerome Allen could be in the mix as well.
The former NBA player is currently a well-respected assistant on the staff of Steve Nash in Brooklyn, and Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated threw his name in the mix. He was in the mix for several head coaching jobs in the past, most notably in Chicago, plus has worked on Gregg Popovich’s staff with USA Basketball. He deserves a chance in the big chair somewhere.
Stevens has to make the call, right? It’s an insane long shot, but with news that Coach K will step down at Duke after next season, Stevens has to at least take a swing. Krzyzewski very likely will not be coming, but Stevens will consider some college coaches such as Juwan Howard (Michigan), Jay Wright (Villanova, and not likely leaving), Tony Bennett (Virginia), among others.