Just one month out from the start of the NBA playoffs, the Boston Celtics have received a hammer blow with the news that their lead assistant coach, Damon Stoudamire, will be leaving the team to take up the head coaching role at Georgia Tech.
“ESPN reporting with @PeteThamel: Boston Celtics assistant Damon Stoudamire is finalizing a deal to become Georgia Tech’s head coach. Stoudamire has informed the Celtics that he’s accepting job and making the leap to the ACC,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on March 13.
Stoudamire joined the Celtics coaching staff ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season to work under Ime Udoka but remained with the team this off-season when Udoka was suspended for breaching organizational policy and later removed. Stoudamire stepped up to be the head coach for the Celtics for a brief moment this season, stepping in for Joe Mazzulla who missed some time after suffering a scratched cornea.
The timing of Stoudamire’s exit will hurt Boston, as the playoffs are right around the corner, and the team is in the hunt for their first championship since 2008. It’s unlikely that Mazzulla or Brad Stevens will move to hire a new coach this season, but there will undoubtedly be some movement on that front throughout the summer.
Celtics Could Trade Mike Muscala
Unfortunately for Stevens, finding some additional coaching staff to ease the pressure on Mazzulla this summer will only be one of his problems, as he will also be tasked with finding ways to improve the current roster, either via trade or free agency.
According to an Eastern Conference GM, who spoke with Heavy on Sports’ Sean Deveney under the condition of anonymity, recently acquired big man Mike Muscala could emerge as a potential trade candidate this offseason.
“It is hard to imagine they will keep both of those guys if Gallinari comes back healthy,” The GM said, “But at the same time, the option on Muscala is $3.5 million for next year. It might be worth it to just pick up the option and use him as a trade piece. If you package him with other guys like Pritchard and Kornet, you get yourself into the $12 million range on what you can bring back. So, if they do not have another option they like a lot, they could bring him back as a guy they potentially move during the season or in the summer.”
Isaiah Thomas Could Join Celtics As a Coach
During a recent conversation with Heavy on Sports Steve Bulpett, veteran big man Al Horford discussed the likelihood of former Celtics All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas becoming a coach.
“I mean, he loves basketball,” says Horford, who came to the Celtics as a marquee free agent in 2016 partly because Thomas had improved the club’s prospects. “He genuinely loves it. He cares for it. I feel like he can teach. When he’s ready to do that, I feel like he’d be good. I mean, there’s few guys that love — I mean really LOVE the game how he does. And that’s special.”
Considering the number of coaching opportunities currently available on Boston’s coaching staff, it could make sense for Thomas to return to the TD Garden in a coaching capacity and start the next phase of his career with the team and city that he fell in love with.