Rumor: The ‘under-the-radar’ Celtics head coaching option to replace Brad Stevens
The Boston Celtics are looking for a head coach to replace Brad Stevens, with Stevens himself leading that search as the new president of basketball operations. According to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, Atlanta Hawks coach Nate McMillan is an “under-the-radar contender” to become the next Celtics coach.
The current expectation is the Hawks will remove the interim tag from McMillan and offer him an extension. The coach led a major regular-season turnaround after the firing of Lloyd Pierce and has Atlanta in the second round of the playoffs.
The Hawks were just 14-20 when they decided to pull the plug on Pierce. McMillan took over and Atlanta promptly went on a big run, finishing the season 27-11 to get to 41-31 on the season and the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks then pummeled the fourth-seeded New York Knicks in five games to set up a second-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
While staying in Atlanta seems like the obvious play, McMillan could look to use his success with the Hawks as a way to get a more high-profile job. As promising as things are in Atlanta when it comes to the future, coaching the Celtics is a bigger deal and brings along its own potential for great success thanks to the presence of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Boston dealt with a lot of issues this season and slumped to a 36-36 record. The Celtics beat the Washington Wizards in the play-in tournament, only to get smoked by the Brooklyn Nets in five games in the first round. Danny Ainge then stepped down to make way for Stevens.
Boston is reportedly prioritizing a Black head coach. Chauncey Billups, Darvin Ham, Charles Lee, Ime Udoka and Jamahl Mosley are all assistant coaches who have been contacted about the opening.