Five names for Brad Stevens to consider when selecting the next Celtics head coach

Danny Ainge’s has retired as Boston Celtics president of basketball operations, and things have begun to move quickly. Already Brad Stevens has stepped in to fill his place, and the search for a new head coach has begun. In his introductory press conference, Stevens gave few clues about where his coaching search may lead.

“One of the things I’ve learned being in coaching, coaching against other great coaches, learning things from the people that you coach against, is there’s a lot of different ways to coach. And there’s a lot of different ways to be successful as a coach.”

The list of potential candidates may be a long one, and could reportedly include some folks currently coaching in the postseason right now. Here are a few names Brad Stevens ought to consider when selecting the next head coach of the Boston Celtics:

1. Jerome Allen

Perhaps Brad Stevens will start his search for his successor close to home. Jerome Allen would be an excellent place to begin.

Hot off of his fifth season as a Celtics assistant, Allen’s coaching career was sidelined by an NCAA bribery scandal in 2015. During his time at the collegiate level, though, Allen befriend Stevens, which ultimately landed him in Boston.

Allen is a strong candidate for two reasons. First, he would likely work in concert with Stevens in decision making. This sort of synergy between the sideline and the front office could prove very valuable, and would mean the team building and Xs and Os would share similar philosophies.

Second, Allen spent some time as a pro, playing for two seasons in the NBA from 1995-97. However brief, this insight into the grind of life as a pro could prove invaluable. (More on that later.)

Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga may also make some noise during the hiring process. Larranaga has been with Boston for quite some time, and was even considered a potential replacement for Doc Rivers back in 2013. Realistically both Larranaga and Allen will earn real consideration.

2. Ime Udoka

It’s a matter of when, not if, Ime Udoka becomes and NBA head coach. Currently an assistant with the Brooklyn Nets, Udoka has a very intriguing resume.

Udoka spent the ’00s bouncing between Europe and the Association, including stints with the Spurs and Trail Blazers. In 2012, Udoka joined San Antonio as an assistant coach, winning a championship in 2014 and later helping recruit LaMarcus Aldridge to the Spurs in 2015. (The two had played together in Portland previously.)

Any disciple from the Gregg Popovich coaching tree is worth a look. Ditto one with strong player relationships. After leaving the Spurs, Udoka joined the 76ers and the Nets, meaning he also has very intimate experience with building championship contenders. Udoka has spoken before about the importance of a collaborative coaching environment, something that resonates in Boston.

Udoka is just 43-years old, and he brings youth and flexibility to the table. Someone cut from that mythical Spurs cloth could be fantastic for a Celtics in need of a kick in the butt.

Becky Hammon – San Antonio’s top assistant at the time of this writing – would make an excellent candidate. The smart money is on Hammon sticking around and eventually replacing Popovich as head coach for the Spurs, though.

3. Mike D’Antoni

Perhaps what Boston needs is a seasoned coach who has worked with All-Star players before. Someone who knows about maximizing unique a offensive talent like Jayson Tatum. Mike D’Antoni is a two-time NBA coach of the year, and although he hasn’t been to the top of the mountain, the Cat knows what it takes to win at the highest level.

Tatum and Jaylen Brown were among the most effective players in transition this past season. Mike D’Antoni could be the man to unleash this twin threat in the open court.

Even with a more restrained approach, Boston’s listless offense would be reimagined under D’Antoni. With a full offseason and training camp, this might be a very cool pairing for a young, athletic Celtics roster. Stevens has leaned heavily on defense in the past, but certainly he has a penchant for shooting. D’Antoni may be an idealogical consistent choice while also bringing a touch of cachet and grit.

4. Adrian Griffin

The NBA is full of talented assistants that could very easily become successful head coaches given the opportunity. Adrian Griffin has been on the sidelines since 2008, and would bring an incredible wealth of experience to Boston.

Griffin currently works under Raptors coach Nick Nurse, and was a key part of Toronto’s championship run in 2019. He has also coached for Team USA and for Tom Thibodeau back with Chicago. This is a man who has put in the hours, and as a veteran coach and former player, offers the Celtics wisdom and exposure.

Wes Unseld Jr. is another name to keep an eye on. He too has tremendous upside as a head coach given his many years in the league, and anyone worth their salt will likely be giving Brad Stevens and Co. a call in the coming days.

5. Chauncey Billups

Boston is still a very young team. An analytics, Xs and Os sort of coach could be very helpful because the C’s are still establishing rhythm, discipline, and identity. By the same token, though, the right former player can do all of that while injecting some toughness and credibility into the locker room.

Kevin Garnett is out, and plucking any former player off the street doesn’t make sense. Boston would need a former player with some coaching experience under their belt.

Although Chauncy Billups is only in his first year as an NBA assistant, his time with the Clippers could be enough of a stepping stone to the Celtics sideline. Bringing in coach Billups would have a very unique added benefit for the C’s.

Billups is one of a few coaches represented by Klutch Sports. If Billups is an honest candidate for the position, the ability to curry a bit of favor with Klutch might be a real perk to consider. Brad Stevens is going to need to build up his rolodex; every little bit helps.

Who the Celtics ultimately land on as their head coach could be really telling. Taking a chance on a younger assistant or former player with limited experience could signal that Boston is re-tooling and taking its time. A splashier choice might suggest Brad Stevens wants to hit the ground running. Stay tuned.

Please follow me on Twitter @CTabatabaie


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Five names for Brad Stevens to consider when selecting the next Celtics head coach