Brad Stevens’s first task as Celtics president of basketball operations? Finding his own replacement.
With Danny Ainge’s retirement after 18 years with the team, Stevens will ascend into the front office for the first time in his career.
“I’m looking forward to really diving into this process,” Stevens said of his first coaching search. “I think that the good news about whoever we hire [is that] they don’t have to fill Doc Rivers’s shoes like I did, and they don’t have to fill Danny Ainge’s shoes now like I do. Good news is they just have to, you know, figure out a way to, you know, be better than the last guy.”
Here are 11 names to know.
Celtics coaching candidates
Sam Cassell: Cassell, who ended his playing career with the Celtics in 2008, is on Doc Rivers’s staff in Philadelphia. He won a title in Boston, and Kendrick Perkins is going to bat for him to become the next coach.
Chauncey Billups: Billups joined the Clippers’ staff in 2020 after 17 seasons in the NBA. He began his playing career when the Celtics made him the third overall pick in the 1997 draft.
Lloyd Pierce: Pierce was fired by the Hawks earlier this year after a dismal start to the season. It was his first gig as a head coach after years as an assistant with the Cavaliers, the Warriors, the Grizzlies, and the 76ers.
Jason Kidd: The former point guard had two swings as a head coach — first in 2013, when the Nets hired him fresh off his retirement from the league. The Bucks poached him (in exchange for a couple of first-round picks) a season later. He was fired by Milwaukee in 2018, and latched on as an assistant with the Lakers a year later.
Juwan Howard: Howard returned to his alma mater, Michigan, in 2019 after six years on the bench with the Miami Heat — the team with which he ended his playing career. Howard coached the Wolverines to a No. 1 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament while earning AP coach of the year honors.
Jerome Allen: Allen has been on Stevens’s staff since leaving the college ranks in 2015.
Jay Larranaga: The Celtics chose Stevens over Larranaga in 2013 to replace Doc Rivers. He has been the team’s top assistant since 2012.
Kara Lawson: Lawson left the Celtics last season to take over the Duke women’s basketball program. Wyc Grousbeck could make history if he were to hire Lawson, who would be the first woman head coach in the NBA.
Ime Udoka: Udoka worked under Brett Brown in Philadelphia and Gregg Popovich in San Antonio before joining the Brooklyn Nets prior to the 2020 season.
Nate McMillan: McMillan took over for Pierce when he was fired by Atlanta, and promptly led the Hawks to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. After spending his entire career with the SuperSonics, he became an assistant with the team upon retirement in 1998 and was tapped to take over as head coach on an interim basis just two years later.
Jay Wright: Wright has won two NCAA titles (2016 and 2018) in his 20 years as the head coach at Villanova. If the Celtics hope to replicate the success they had in plucking Stevens out of the college ranks, Wright is the cream of the crop.