Celtics Assistant, Head Coaching Candidate Talks up His Familiarity

Jerome Allen Terry Rozier Celtics

Getty Boston Celtics assistant Jerome Allen speaks with then Cs guard Terry Rozier during the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Fans in Beantown and the basketball world at large continue to feel the shockwaves of the Boston Celtics‘ massive organizational shift on Wednesday. Gone is Danny Ainge, who had spearheaded the team’s player personnel strategy for nearly decades. Now, Brad Stevens takes up the role of president of basketball operations.

And his first order of business will be hiring his own head-coaching replacement.

In the wake of the shuffle, a handful of well-known names have grabbed headlines as coaching candidates. Chief among them — Hall of Fame point guard and former Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd, now an assistant with the L.A. Lakers.

The hoops blogosphere has also bandied about names like former Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce, San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon and former NBA All-Stars turned coaches Chauncey Billups and Juwan Howard, among others.

Heavy’s Sean Deveney made a strong case for another former All-Star who joined the coaching ranks, Philadelphia 76ers assistant Sam Cassell.

Before they look outward, though, the Celtics are expected to begin their interview process in-house. And one of their current assistants, Jerome Allen, believes he has got a leg up on the competition.

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Allen Learned Under Stevens, Knows the Team & Its Players

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey spoke with Allen about the opening, asking him what makes him prepared for the job. For the 48-year-old, it’s all about the time he has already spent with the organization under Stevens, who led the Cs to multiple Eastern Conference Finals.

“For six years I either sat behind [Stevens] or next to him and watched him not only work. I watched him prepare,” Allen said. “I watched him show-in to other people. Watched how he operated.”

Allen first joined the Celtics in 2015 after having coached in the Ivy League at Penn. He subsequently worked closely with players like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams, Marcus Smart — i.e. the team’s current core — as well as former players like Kyrie Irving, Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier.

In his eyes, that work should translate to a head coaching gig with the Cs.

“The old saying is, ‘What you do while you are waiting for the opportunity pretty much dictates your ability to be able to flourish in that role.’”

Before entering the coaching ranks, Allen played in 117 NBA games over two seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets from 1995 to 1997. He also spent time in France, Italy, Greece, Spain and Turkey during a playing career that ended in 2009.

Larranaga Has Similar Experience

While Allen’s organizational familiarity and experience with Stevens — who is now tasked with hiring the next coach — could factor into his candidacy, the same is true of Jay Larranaga. And Larranaga may have a leg up on Allen in some key areas.

First and foremost, the 46-year-old has already been a candidate for multiple head coaching jobs over the years. He even interviewed for Boston’s opening when Doc Rivers left the team in 2013. He didn’t get the job, but Stevens did retain him as an assistant when he got the job.

That brings us back to the idea of organizational familiarity — and not even Allen has logged as much time with the Beantowners as Larranaga, who came was hired 2012.

So while Allen probably has good reason to believe in himself as Stevens’ potential successor, Larranaga clearly does as well.

In the end, Stevens and the Cs just need to get their head coaching hire right, whether they promote from within or bring in a fresh face. The team is simply too talented to go through more seasons like the disappointment that was 2020-21.

It’s the players that ultimately win and lose basketball games, but Stevens may be limited to working in the margins regarding roster improvements due to the team’s cap situation. With the coaching job, though, he’ll have a number of intriguing candidates to choose from.

And finding someone who can get the most out of the players Boston already has may be more important than adding pieces.

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