The Boston Celtics are in serious shakeup mode, and their shakeup plans may have just been shaken up. Before they even begin to fix what went wrong on the court, they already have a coaching vacancy to fill. Brad Stevens left the position to take over for the recently resigned Danny Ainge as president of basketball operations. It’s been reported the Celtics had a plan when hiring their next coach, but that may have all just gone out the window.
The Celtics may very well have been the most disappointing team in the NBA this season. Armed with two young All-Stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the team hovered around the .500 mark all season before finishing there at 36-36. The Brooklyn Nets bounced them from the playoffs in the first round.
There was turmoil in Boston all season. Ainge took the blame for the performance on the court, saying the roster he put together just wasn’t that good. “If there’s somebody to blame, this is Danny Ainge to blame,” Ainge said to Boston.com earlier in the season. “This is not Brad Stevens. It’s not Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown. It’s not good enough right now. And we all know that. And, you know, we need to get better.”
Point guard Kemba Walker blasted the team for its lack of effort. Brown showed his frustration with the offense by issuing a “no comment” when a reporter asked him if he was satisfied with the team’s ball movement. It was ugly all around for a team one year removed from an Eastern Conference Finals appearance.
It came as a surprise to most when the Celtics announced their shakeup quickly after their first-round elimination. Most of the shakeup was expected to take place on the court, and it likely still will. Stevens moving to the front office didn’t appear to be on the radar. Now he faces the task of hiring his replacement.
Several names have already been tossed around, including Chauncey Billups, Jason Kidd, and Sam Cassell. It’s been reported that team personnel contacted by Bleacher Report have said that hiring a Black candidate is a top priority for the Celtics. B/R reported that Billups was one of five assistant coaches Boston contacted, along with Darvin Ham and Charles Lee (Bucks), Ime Udoka (Nets), and Jamahl Mosley (Mavericks).
The Celtics may be forced to switch gears after Rick Carlisle told the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday he will not be returning for a 14th year as head coach. Carlisle, who said he wants to continue coaching, automatically becomes a top target for one of the seven openings.
Carlisle has ties with the team as the Celtics selected him as a player in the third round of the 1984 NBA draft. He spent the first three years of his five-year playing career in Boston. Those roots, along with his 836 career wins as a head coach, might just force the Celtics to alter their strategy.
The Celtics have some serious issues to solve outside of their coaching search. The team needs some help up front and already made their first move, ridding themselves of Walker and his contract. Walker recently stated he wants a new start, and the Celtics were willing to oblige.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics are trading Walker, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2021 draft and a 2025 second-round draft pick to Oklahoma City for Al Horford, Moses Brown and a 2023 second-round pick.
Walker’s frustrations with the Celtics stemmed from the team trying to trade him during the 2020-21 season.