SAD NEWS: Boston Celtics Lose Top Coaching Staff to Unforeseen Resignations

SAD NEWS: Boston Celtics Lose Top Coaching Staff to Unforeseen Resignations


Ric Bucher, Melissa Rohlin and Yaron WeitzmanFOX Sports NBA WritersJust three months after leading the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals in his first season as head coach, Ime Udoka is in the midst of drama and uncertainty rocking the organization.

The team suspended Udoka for the entire 2022-2023 season on Thursday, just a day after ESPN and The Athletic reported that he had an arranged intimate relationship with a teammate in violation of the organization’s policy.The impact of the unprecedented punishment will certainly be felt throughout the organization and the league in the coming days.

Our NBA reporters – Ric Bucher, Melissa Rohlin and Yaron Weitzman – spoke with NBA sources in detail about what happens next.Where do the Celtics go from hereAccording to an ESPN report, the Celtics are turning to assistant coach Joe Mazzulla to replace Udoka.Only 34 years old, Mazzulla takes over a team that is leaving the playoffs and looking for something new.

That would be a tall order for any coach, let alone a coach with no experience as the leading voice of an NBA team. The good news for Celtics fans is that Mazzulla seems to be beloved throughout the organization.andquot;The players like him and respect him,andquot; one Celtic source said. When asked about Mazzulla during last year’s playoffs, Celtics star Jayson Tatum said, andquot;I love Joe… [I] can’t say enough good things about Joe and everybody appreciates the things he brings to this team, and Iand# 039. ; glad we have him.andquot;Mazzulla, who helped lead West Virginia to the NCAA Final Four in 2010 as a point guard, first joined the Celtics organization in 2016 as an assistant with the Maine Red Claws of the G League. The following season, he left to become the head coach at Division II Fairmont State, where he served for three years before being transferred to Brad Stevens’ coaching job with the Celtics in 2019.

The job was a dream come true for Rhode Island. a native that friends say roots the Celtics.Player development was his initial focus. He worked closely with Kemba Walker, among others.andquot;The players accepted him,andquot; said Scott Morrison, then a Celtics assistant and Mazzulla’s head coach during his time with the Red Claws. andquot;He tells them what it is without being abrasive and in my experience, players like that. They like being coached.andquot;He connected with players because he was just as competitive as them.


An example: During the bubble, he and Morrison picked up swimming as a hobby; within a few days, Morrison said, Mazzulla had watched hours of YouTube researching proper techniques and strategies so that he’d never lose a race.In June 2021, Stevens stepped down as head coach and became the Celtics’ general manager. Soon after, he hired Udoka. Mazzu had one of Stevens’ two assists.andquot;I talked to everyone in the organization when I was hired, including the players, and he got glowing reviews,andquot; Udoka said of Mazzulla in June. andquot;I didn’t know much about his involvement, but I will take the players and#039; opinions of high value and he was a man who was unanimous yes.andquot;Udoka raised Mazzulla in front of the “benches”. work He gave him more responsibility in X and O. Mazzulla worked with former chief assistant Will Hardy to design the game. Players noticed the difference.andquot;Heand#039; becomes much more aware and detailed and more vocal and comfortable in the role of coach, andquot; Tatum said last spring. andquot;You’ve seen the growth since his freshman year and he’s helped me tremendously as a player and as a person.andquot;Tatum wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

Mazzula interviewed for the Jazz head coaching job this summer. Utah, led by former Celtics GM Danny Ainge, hired Hardy instead, but then tried to hire Mazzulla as its top assistant, according to sources familiar with the situation. The Celtics already planned to elevate Mazzulla Hardy’s role, but they also gave him a salary after chasing Utah.The Celtics know Mazzulla faces a learning curve — don’t be surprised if they add a former head coach or veteran assistant — and they know Udoka’s success in creating a culture of accountability and dedication helped turn them around last season. and reach the final.

But they also have a full game and believe that in Mazzulla they still have a head coach who knows the strengths and weaknesses of the group and how best to move the buttons.You never know how someone feels about their boss who has the final say and is blamed when things go wrong. But Mazzulla’s co-workers, friends and – most importantly – his superiors trust his ability to pick up where Udoka left off.How will the rest of the league reactThe constant question is, will the team pick up where they left off? And if not, does Mazulla have the presence and personality to pull it off?

The Celtics struggled until the middle of last year, when Udoka publicly demanded his stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, especially on defense.andquot;[Udoka’s] presence was so great,andquot; said one Eastern Conference GM. andquot;He challenged those guys early. He was not afraid. They hit him and he didn’t move. It’s the Larry Brown rule: We can find ways to score, but can we get players to defend and rebound? This is the hardest part. I made them protect and heal.andquot;Coaches who are willing and able to challenge their stars and make them respond are a rare breed, even in the NBA.

Competitors and scouts are skeptical that the Celtics can find two consecutive first-year head coaches who can bounce back from slow starts.andquot;You have to believe that the entire Boston Celtics organization is sick right now,andquot; The Eastern Conference GM said. andquot;Absolutely.

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