Brad Stevens confirms Joe Mazzulla’s return, shares vision for Celtics’ coaching staff

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What’s next for Celtics’ coaching staff? Brad Stevens shares vision originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

We could see significant changes on the Boston Celtics’ coaching staff this offseason. Just not at the top.

Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens confirmed Thursday in his end-of-season press conference that Joe Mazzulla will remain the team’s head coach entering the 2023-24 season.

While Mazzulla’s inexperience showed at times during his first postseason as an NBA head coach — which ended a loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals — Stevens insisted the 34-year-old is the right person for the job he unexpectedly took over from the suspended Ime Udoka just before the 2022-23 regular season.

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“Yeah, I think he is (the best head coach for this team),” Stevens told reporters. “I thought he did a really good job with this group. Everybody’s going to overreact to the best players and coaches after every game. That’s always the way it is. We know that going in, so we have to be able to judge things on the whole.

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“He’s a terrific leader, he’ll only get better at anything that he can learn from this year, because he’s constantly trying to learn. And he’s accountable. Those leadership qualities are hard to find. I know they’re easy to talk about, but when you can show all those through the expectations and the microscope that he was under, that’s hard to do.

“Our players, our staff, everybody around him believe(s) in him, and we’ve got to do our best to support him going forward.”

Stevens and the Celtics can support Mazzulla by overhauling his staff; after the departures of top assistants Will Hardy (Utah Jazz) and Damon Stoudamire (Georgia Tech) in the past calendar year, three more assistant coaches — Ben Sullivan, Aaron Miles and Mike Moser — are expected to join Udoka’s Houston Rockets staff this summer, per a report.

Stevens said the team tried to backfill Stoudamire’s job when he left the team in March, but that the mid-season timing presented challenges.

“Those timings are tough for people to up and move or up and join a team that they don’t know anything about,” Stevens said. “But that was just to be supplemental, because we believed in the people that were here.”

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Stevens confirmed he’ll hire “at least” one new assistant coach this offseason, though that number likely will be higher if Sullivan, Miles and Moser all depart. Stevens also stressed he’ll be looking for candidates with a wealth of NBA experience, although he noted Mazzulla has gained plenty since joining Stevens’ staff as an assistant in 2019.

“First of all, Joe’s experience now, you can probably measure in dog years, right?” Stevens said. “Because now he’s been in three Eastern Conference Finals and an (NBA ) Finals, and he’s been now the head coach throughout one of those runs. I mean, that’s an experience in and of itself.

“… I think he’s got a ton of that, but we’re gonna look for, with at least one addition to the bench — and (Mazzulla) will lead this charge — we’ll look for somebody that’s got a lot of NBA experience, for sure.”

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It appears Stephen Silas is already on Boston’s radar; the former Houston Rockets head coach, who met with Stevens during the first round of the playoffs, is a “leading candidate” to join Mazzulla’s staff, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix reported Thursday.

Silas lasted just three seasons as the head coach of an awful Rockets team but spent the previous two decades as an assistant with six different NBA teams. He’s also a Boston native and the son of Paul Silas, who won two championships with the Celtics during the 1970s.

Adding Silas should be one of several moves Stevens and Co. make to bolster their coaching staff. While it’s possible Mazzulla has a bright future as a head coach — he did lead Boston to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals after taking over the job a week before the preseason — he could benefit from a strong support system with veteran coaches who can help him get the most out of his players.

You can watch Stevens’ press conference in its entirety below or on YouTube.

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