Fortune favours the bold as Boston’s search for a new head coach gets underway

Becky Hammon
Becky Hammon is a candidate for the Celtics head coaching job. Photo from Sir Charles In Charge.

I’m not sure how to say this subtly, so I’ll say it with the utmost bravado. I. Told. You. So!

With the news that Danny Ainge has resigned from his position of Executive Director of Basketball Operations, the Boston Celtics are in a sea of front office upheaval. It was confirmed on Wednesday that Brad Stevens will replace Ainge as Executive Director of Basketball Operations, and in doing so, creates a vacancy in the head coaching position for the organisation.

Celtics head coach candidates

Yes, the usual suspects will have their names floated around. Yes, they will not be seriously considered for the position. The likes of Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy have routinely expressed a desire to return to the sidelines, and no doubt will be linked to the Celtics.

However, in the words of The Big Ticket, anything is possible. Right? Anything… no sorry, I’ll stop myself there. Kevin Garnett will not be appointed head coach of the Boston Celtics, no matter how much fouled mouth profanity we crave from him. Neither will Van Gundy or Jackson.

This opening feels different.

With a young fresh face in Stevens responsible for roster construction, and a young team that boasts a star-studded wing tandem in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Boston might be angling for a young coach. It will be a difficult. Following on from the success of Brad Stevens makes the job even more daunting.

When Stevens took over the reigns as head coach back in 2013, little was known of him outside the college basketball scene. Coaching the Butler Bulldogs and reaching the final four of the NCAA tournament during his six-year stay, Stevens drew attention of the Celtics.

The big-three era Celtics were no more. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce had moved on to the Brooklyn Nets. Ray Allen took his shooting talents to South Beach. Boston finished the 2012-13 season a game above .500. In Brad Stevens’ first year, Boston won 30% of their games. In each season up until 2017-18 the Celtics always increased their winning percentage and ultimately his tenure saw three Eastern Conference Finals’ trips.


Will the real Mr. Bigshot please stand up?

Chauncey Billups is expected to be a candidate for the Boston Celtics head coaching job. Billups is one generation removed from the current crop of NBA players and has the approval around the league, not just from current players, but also from front offices.

Billups’ Xs and Os leave a lot to be desired for. He has never consumed a role of head coach anywhere and would be starting fresh. For an organisation like the Celtics however, that might be too rich for their blood.

The Celtics are mediocre currently. Hiring Billups to be the saviour and get this team moving the ball more fluid than watching Tatum do his best Kobe Bryant impression might be too tall an order. They only have to look within the Eastern Conference to know that hiring a head coach with no previous head coaching experience can backfire terribly.

Nate Bjorkgren as Indiana’s head coach has gone horribly wrong. Reports of a fragile relationship with Malcolm Brogdon spells danger for the first-year head coach and after failing to make the playoffs, his tenure with the Pacers may be short-lived.

Becky in the spotlight

“Becky is a terrific candidate. I hope that [her] time is coming soon”. Brad Stevens echoed these words after the Celtics defeated the San Antonio Spurs back on 1st May.

Although admitted to not knowing Becky Hammon personally, Stevens recognises her standing in the league and the role she plays with the Spurs. If experience is what you’re looking for, Hammon is overwhelmingly more qualified that Chauncey.

She has been assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs since 2014, as well as having stints taking over head coaching duties in Gregg Popovich’s absence.

Her playing credentials speak volumes. Multi-time WNBA All-Star, All-WNBA team 5 times, not to mention Hammon was an assistant coach during the 2016 NBA All-Star game. Becky Hammon will get a head coaching position in the NBA. It simply is a matter of when, not if.

If appointed head coach of the Boston Celtics, it would represent a watershed moment. Not just for the NBA, not just for sports, but for society as a whole.

Mike D’Antoni anyone?

I can see you all scratching your heads wondering why I’m highlighting D’Antoni. He is of course not exactly a spring chicken in the NBA, and mental images of Stevens given D’Antoni orders are hilarious but hear me out.

If there’s any coach that can get the best out of its best players, D’Antoni is your man. Mike D’Antoni was the kingpin of the, as Bill Simmons would put it, ‘critically acclaimed’ Phoenix Suns of the mid-2000s. Their seven-seconds-or-less offence was way ahead of its time and was revered in an era of basketball where the pace of play was at a near standstill. D’Antoni coached a crucial role in Steve Nash winning back-to-back MVP honours in 2005 and 2006 by utilising pace and space, and taking an absurd amount of threes for that era of basketball.

His last stop with the Houston Rockets was another success. Although he has failed to yield a championship throughout his coaching career, D’Antoni’s Rockets were a potential Chris Paul injury away from winning the Larry O’Brien trophy. Again, under his regime, another one of his players won an MVP – James Harden in 2018.

D’Antoni could do the same with Tatum. That speaks to both the level of player Tatum can become, and D’Antoni’s ability to get the best out of players. The defence will take a hit if D’Antoni is given carte blanche over on court matters, however, there is little doubt that the Celtics will become must-see television.

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About Kelechi Ulu 18 Articles
It was during the 2018 Conference Finals my interest in the NBA began. Watching the Rockets and Warriors duel it out was something akin to a movie scene. It was then when I knew I was hooked onto the NBA... Since then I love reading all things NBA and listening to a plethora of basketball podcasts. It’s all for the love of the game

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