The Boston Celtics made some huge waves Wednesday in announcing that head coach Brad Stevens would become the team's new president of basketball operations as Danny Ainge stepped down. It's a shocking development considering Ainge's success with the team, but one that he's reportedly been contemplating for over two years. With Ainge out and Stevens in as the new president, it now leaves a vacancy at the head coaching position for a Celtics team that was bounced from the postseason in the first round by the Brooklyn Nets.
It may be a while until Boston decides on a new coach, given there are some candidates who are currently on coaching staffs in the postseason. But it's never too early to take a look at who could be taking on the role. Here's the latest rumors flying around regarding the Celtics coaching vacancy.
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Kidd has been tied to several head coaching opportunities in the past since being fired from his head job with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2018. Most recently he was a candidate for the Pelicans coaching gig before the team went with Stan Van Gundy. He's spent the last two seasons as an assistant on Frank Vogel's staff with the Lakers, and he's reportedly a candidate of interest for the Celtics, per Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes. Kidd has a 183-190 coaching record that included a one-year stint with the Brooklyn Nets, but despite his sub-.500 record and his controversial past, his basketball IQ is held in high regard by some of the league's top players, most notably, LeBron James. It was reported that James lobbied hard to get Kidd on the Lakers staff, as the four-time NBA champion believes Kidd is the "only person alive who sees the game of basketball with his level of clarity." If Kidd's good enough for LeBron, maybe he's good enough for Boston.
The former Pistons legend is in his first season as an assistant coach under Ty Lue with the Clippers, but he's been linked to several jobs around the league from front office positions to head coaching gigs. The Timberwolves were seriously considering him for their president of basketball operations in 2019, and before the Pacers settled on Nate Bjorkgren as their head coach prior to the start of this season, Billups was a serious candidate. Like Kidd, Billups is a well regarded figure around the league, and would bring some cachet with his decorated career as a player. He also has some connections with some Celtics players, per Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill, which could go a long way in determining who will be filling Stevens' shoes. Although he hasn't been on the sidelines for long, Billups basketball IQ should more than makes up for his lack of coaching experience.
Although Pierce was let go midway through the season with the Atlanta Hawks, he's still respected in the league by players and coaches alike, which is evident considering the Celtics are reportedly interested in him as their next head coach. He hasn't had much success since becoming a head coach in the league, with a record of 63-120, and his coaching style rubbed some of the young Hawks players the wrong way this season, which in part led to his firing. However, he has extensive experience in player development and as an assistant coach, knows several of the Celtics players from his time coaching on the USA Basketball staff and has a relationship with Stevens.
The Celtics are reportedly tabbing Udoka as a candidate for head coach. With his resume, it's easy to understand why. He spent seven seasons as an assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, then went on to join former Sixers coach Brett Brown as his top assistant and crafted Philadelphia's defensive scheme. When Brown was fired after last season, Udoka was considered to be promoted to head coach, but after the franchise hired Doc Rivers to replace Brown, Udoka joined Steve Nash's staff in Brooklyn. With the assistant coaching history Udoka has, it's only a matter of time before he gets his first head coaching gig, and his defensive-minded coaching style would work well with the Celtics roster construction between Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart.