Utah Jazz CEO Danny Ainge has a level of familiarity with the Boston Celtics that most do not have, having held roles as the executive director and president of basketball operations for the Celtics from 2003 to 2022. As a result, nobody need wonder why the longtime front office executive has his eyes on both his own head coach — Will Hardy — and Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla.

Ainge also has high praise for both Hardy and Mazzulla, believing the young coaches demonstrate the traits that lead to “legendary” status, per The Athletic’s Jay King:

“I just always liked Joe’s work ethic, his focus, his intelligence,” Ainge said. “I feel like Joe is one of those guys — one way that I’ve always measured greatness is how much a person can learn from mistakes they make. Joe’s going to learn from his mistakes, just like Will Hardy learns from his mistakes quickly. … The coaches that learn and move on, they become the legendary coaches. And I think both Joe and Will have a chance to be those.”

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Mazzulla was hired to be the head coach of the Celtics following the discovery that former head coach Ime Udoka was having an improper relationship with a higher-up. Known as a player’s coach just like his predecessor, the 34-year-old has led Boston to a 49-23 record in his first season. Considering the Celtics went 51-31 last season, that’s extraordinarily impressive.

Hardy has also been impressive, particularly in terms of player development. Although the Jazz don’t have a sparkling win-loss record at 34-36, they’re still in the playoff race despite trading former franchise cornerstones Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert last offseason. Just 35-years-old, Hardy is another branch of the famed Gregg Popovich coaching tree.