The Boston Celtics are undergoing major changes following an unsatisfactory 2020-21 season. Danny Ainge retired from his role as president of basketball operations. Brad Stevens, who coached the Celtics for the past eight seasons, will take over the top front office role that Ainge had previously held since 2003.
With Stevens no longer the head coach, the Celtics need to find his successor. Keeping that in mind, here are the best candidates for the Celtics to hire as their next head coach.
3. Jason Kidd, Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach
In addition to his Hall of Fame career as a player, Jason Kidd has head coaching experience. The 48-year-old spent one season (2013-14) as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets before taking on the same role with the Milwaukee Bucks from 2014-18. Kidd holds a 183-190 record with three playoff appearances.
Kidd has worked as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers the past two seasons under head coach Frank Vogel, winning the 2020 NBA title.
Despite posting a losing record as a head coach, Kidd will reportedly be a candidate to replace Stevens for the Celtics. Kidd’s biggest appeal is his extraordinarily high on-court IQ.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 2, 2021
2. Chauncey Billups, Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach
Drafted by the Celtics with the third overall pick of the 1997 NBA Draft, Chauncey Billups enjoyed a stellar career. An NBA champion and 2004 Finals MVP with the Detroit Pistons as a player, Billups began his coaching career this season, serving as the top assistant under Los Angeles Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue.
While this is Billups’ first season as a coach, his name has been thrown around for several high-ranking NBA gigs in the past. For example, he was in the running for the Minnesota Timberwolves’ president of basketball of operations job in 2019. More recently, Billups interviewed for the Indiana Pacers’ head coaching vacancy prior to this season. The Pacers ended up hiring Nate Bjorkgren instead.
Billups, 44, reportedly has connections to Boston’s players. A rapport with members of the current squad might increase his chances of landing the position.
Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, in addition to Jason Kidd and Lloyd Pierce (via @ChrisBHaynes), expected to as a candidate for Celtics HC, sources tell @YahooSports. Billups has connections with players on Celtics roster, will be hot candidate this offseason
— Vincent Goodwill (@VinceGoodwill) June 2, 2021
The lack of coaching background on Billups’ end could be a disqualifier in the mind of Brad Stevens. Then again, Billups’ basketball intelligence might outweigh his shortage of experience.
1. Sam Cassell, Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach
A member of the 2008 NBA champion Celtics, Sam Cassell is still looking for his first head coaching job. The former point guard played in the NBA from 1993-2008 and has served in an assistant coaching role in the league since 2009. He was an assistant with the Washington Wizards from 2009-2014. From there, he worked under Doc Rivers for the Los Angeles Clippers until 2020.
Cassell interviewed for the Clippers’ coaching vacancy after they fired Rivers last year, but did not attain the job. Rivers brought Cassell on board as an assistant upon joining the Philadelphia 76ers prior to the start of this season.
The oddsmakers list the 51-year-old Cassell as the favorite to become Boston’s next head coach.
Celtics Head Coaching odds from @SportsLine
Sam Cassell +300
Chauncey Billups +400
Jay Larranaga +500
Jason Kidd +700
Becky Hammon +800
Kenny Atkinson +900
Jeff Van Gundy +1000
Mark Jackson +1200
Jay Wright +2500
Juwan Howard +3000
Rick Pitino +5000
— Marc Bertrand (@Marc_Bertrand) June 2, 2021
Cassell’s previous background with the franchise — albeit in a limited reserve role for one season — could give him a leg up on the competition.