The Boston Celtics have undergone quite the overhaul in what is very much a young offseason. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge clearly had one foot out the door, announcing his retirement on Wednesday, June 2, less than 24 hours after seeing his team eliminated from the playoffs. Ainge will be replaced by Brad Stevens, who after roaming Boston’s sidelines for the past eight years, will now move to the front office. This suddenly places the Celtics in the market for a new head coach.
Shortly after news of the vacancy emerging, Bostonians united to make a plea for a franchise great to take the helm. Fans and media personalities alike banged the table for Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett to be named the 18th head coach in Celtics history. While Garnett may lack in coaching experience, the 15-time All-Star, who retired in September 2016, would bring the type of fiery passion that would resonate with the fan base.
With that said, any dream of K.G. calling the shots in Boston next season are all but dead. Garnett posted an Instagram story later on Wednesday, punting on the idea of joining the coaching ranks, as captured by NBC Sports Boston’s Justin Leger.
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Candidates to Replace Stevens as Head Coach
While Garnett is clearly out of the question, the Celtics still have a number of intriguing candidates worthy of taking Stevens’ spot.
In-house candidate Jay Larranaga has received his fair share of publicity, as has former assistant Kara Lawson.
“I think they’re gonna hire Kara Lawson,” Brian Scalabrine said on NBC Sports Boston. “I know the organization thinks that she’s unbelievable. I know that the players respect her when she went down to Duke to coach the women’s team there. I mean, I’m just putting A + B = C to me — I think they hire Kara Lawson.”
The typical names such as Mark Jackson and Chauncey Billups have been floated as possibilities, while rumors have also placed Jason Kidd and Lloyd Pierce in the running.
Ex-Celtic Sam Cassell Labeled the Favorite
As of now, all the aforementioned candidates hold lesser odds than former Celtics and current Philadelphia 76ers assistant, Sam Cassell. Given +300 odds to be named the C’s next head coach by SportsLine, the 51-year-old has garnered a sizeable backing. Heavy’s Sean Deveney believes the three-time NBA champion should “absolutely” land the job. Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey evidently agrees, ranking Cassell as the No. 1 head coaching candidate for the Celtics.
Here’s what he had to say:
He [Cassell] finished his career as a player with the Celtics in 2007-08, and he landed his first job as an assistant with the Washington Wizards in 2009-10.
He’s been an NBA assistant ever since, with stints with the Los Angeles Clippers and currently the Philadelphia 76ers. He may not have the head coaching experience of Pierce or Kidd, but that’s an extensive history of NBA coaching on the heels of a 15-year playing career.
Cassell also won three titles as a player, including one with Boston, where he was a backup guard on the team led by Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. As someone who’s been exposed to decades of NBA basketball, under the influence of various head coaches, Cassell would bring a wealth of experience to a young Celtics roster.