After a disappointing season that saw them struggle to even make the playoffs before losing to the Brooklyn Nets in five games in the first round, everyone knew the Boston Celtics would make changes this summer. But no one could have expected Brad Stevens to step down as head coach and take over as president of basketball operations for a departing Danny Ainge.
Stevens' first order of business was finding a coach to replace himself, and at the end of June, the team hired Ime Udoka as the 18th head coach in Celtics history. Udoka, who has a relationship with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart from Team USA, was reportedly the first choice of everyone involved. His hiring has drawn rave reviews around the league, and now Udoka is setting about building a staff.
The first name on the list is former NBA Rookie of the Year Damon Stoudamire, who will join the team as an assistant coach after five seasons as the head coach at University of the Pacific. On Wednesday, the school confirmed the news in a press release announcing their new head coach.
Stoudamire was the No. 7 overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft and won Rookie of the Year in 1996. He spent 13 seasons in the league, and is most well-known for his run with the Portland Trail Blazers in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as he helped the team reach back-to-back Western Conference finals.
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After his playing days, Stoudamire quickly transitioned into coaching. He spent time as an assistant in both the collegiate and pro ranks, before becoming the head coach of Pacific in 2016. During the 2020 season, he was named West Coast Conference Coach of the Year after he led them to a 23-10 record -- their best mark in 14 years.
Udoka and Stoudamire are long-time friends who grew up together in Portland and briefly played together with the Spurs in 2008. Adding coaches with playing experience was part of the mission for the Celtics this offseason, and Stoudamire will certainly help fill that void.