Celtics reportedly prioritizing hiring a Black coach and someone with head coaching experience
Tomorrow will mark two weeks since we woke up to hear Danny Ainge was retiring and Brad Stevens had been promoted to his job. That also meant the Celtics had to fill the head coaching job. Stevens as you have expected is conducting a thorough process to find the best person for the job.
If you were looking for the Celtics to hire a more hard nosed coach to push the young Celtics, it doesn't look like a Scott Skiles type is walking through the door. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report the Celtics want to hire a coach that gets along well with players, aka a "players' coach." So expect the new coach to have more in common with Brad than some fans might have hoped. Then again Doc Rivers was also a players' coach.
Speaking of Doc, according to Fischer, he seems like the profile of the coach Stevens and Celtics ownership would like to hire. A Black players' coach who has head coaching experience.
Billups was one of five assistant coaches Boston contacted for its position, along with Darvin Ham and Charles Lee (Bucks), Ime Udoka (Nets) and Jamahl Mosley (Mavericks). All are highly regarded young coaches who are said to relate well with players—something that appears to be a preference for Boston, as well as having playing experience in the NBA. Of that list, only Mosley and Lee did not reach the league as players.
Team personnel contacted by B/R maintain that hiring a Black candidate is another top priority for the Celtics. If Boston can also land someone who has previous head coaching experience, that person would further meet the Celtics' criteria, sources said.
With that, Nate McMillan is an under-the-radar contender to become Boston's 18th head coach in franchise history.
Obviously Rivers won't be available to hire this offseason and I'd be shocked if Nate McMillan isn't given the permanent coaching tag with the Hawks. He'd have to ask for the moon and the Hawks refuse to meet his asking price for him to become an option. But McMillan has done great with the Hawks and this run has boosted his own brand. It would seem rather foolish for McMillan to walk away from that deep, young team.
Now note the Celtics may be prioritizing three things, but that doesn't mean their hire will check all three boxes. In terms of candidates that do check all three, it makes sense that the first two names that were rumored to be on Boston's radar were Jason Kidd and Lloyd Pierce.
I'm not a fan of Kidd as person, nor as a coach. Seems like a downgrade from Stevens. And honestly the only thing I know about Lloyd Pierce is that he was the coach of the Hawks when they underperformed to start the season, and lost a ton of games the two prior seasons. And immediately after the Hawks' coaching change to McMillan, Atlanta became a winning team. But everyone deserves a second shot. Just seems like Boston is a prime coaching spot due to having two stars in their young 20's, a stable ownership/front office, great fans, and a winning tradition, that they could aim higher.
My guess is Boston will a hire a Black coach that they believe their players will like, but he will be a rookie coach. Might even be a college coach that no one has even mentioned as a possibility. I don't see Kara Lawson leaving Duke so soon after getting the job. Also the announcement today that Lawson will be covering basketball at this summer's Olympics probably is the final sign that she won't be the hire.
My prediction would have been Chauncey Billups, but he was involved in a sexual assault lawsuit at the beginning of his NBA career. The lawsuit was settled by Billups and Ron Mercer when they agreed to pay the accuser an undisclosed amount.
For Billups to get the job, Boston would first need to do some serious vetting of Billups, and also determine if they are willing to deal with some blow back from the hire. But reading social media it seems that Boston fans and sportswriters really want the Celtics to hire a Black head coach, so my guess is that the love the Celtics would get from hiring a Black coach would trump the negative PR of the past lawsuit.
On a separate note, anyone know of any other former NBA head coaches who are Black and thus might be on Boston's radar?