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Celtics assistant Kara Lawson close to becoming Duke women’s basketball coach

The Celtics hired Kara Lawson as an assistant coach for the 2019-20 season.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Celtics assistant coach Kara Lawson is close to finalizing a deal to become the head coach of Duke’s women’s basketball team, a league source confirmed on Friday.

Lawson did not respond to a text message. Celtics coach Brad Stevens declined to comment on the report, but indicated he would be able to soon.

“I mean, everybody knows what I think of Kara,” Stevens said. “She’s unbelievable. When I can comment on it, I will.”

Lawson was hired by the Celtics prior to last season, becoming the first female coach in the franchise’s history.

“I think fit is really important,” she said last summer. “I think it’s important when you’re a player, I think it’s really important when you’re a coach. There’s a lot of similarities to being a player and a coach in that sense in terms of fit.


“For me, this was a good fit. I wanted to go somewhere where I’d be challenged, I wanted to go somewhere where I’d be allowed to coach, and I wanted to go to an organization that was going to be playing in big games to be able to get a sense of that last frontier of coaching, which is being able to do it in pressure situations in the regular season and the playoffs.”

Lawson, 39, played for Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt at Tennessee and then had a 13-year WNBA career that included stops in Sacramento, Connecticut, and Washington. She was also a member of the gold medal-winning US Olympic team at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Prior to being hired by the Celtics, Lawson was a basketball analyst for ESPN and Wizards games for NBC Sports Washington.

Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca, who also is a Duke Board of Trustees member, supports Lawson’s hiring at the school, according to a report in the Raleigh News & Observer. Lawson would replace Joanne P. McCallie, who resigned on July 2 after 13 years with the Blue Devils after her contract was not extended beyond next season.


Gary Washburn of the Globe staff contributed to this report

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at Follow him @adamhimmelsbach. Follow Andrew Mahoney @GlobeMahoney.