5 potential replacements for Brad Stevens as Celtics head coach

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
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Celtics, Brad Stevens
Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

With Brad Stevens assuming a new role, the Boston Celtics need a new head coach.

The Boston Celtics are undergoing a massive shakeup, with Danny Ainge stepping down as team president and head coach Brad Stevens set to assume the role. Stevens will be stepping down as head coach to focus on his new job full-time, which means he will now be responsible for finding his own replacement for Boston’s next head coach.

The Celtics disappointed in 2020-21, getting swept by the Brooklyn Nets in the first round after snagging the 7-seed through the NBA‘s Play-In Tournament. Although Jaylen Brown’s season-ending wrist injury obviously played a role in their early playoff demise, this team struggled all season long to live up to expectations, which were only heightened after they reached the Eastern Conference Finals in the Orlando bubble last year.

Stevens is stepping down after feeling worn down by the coaching grind, so whoever steps into this prestigious vacancy will have to be prepared. Getting to coach Brown, Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart makes this an attractive opening, but big roster changes could be coming after such an underwhelming season.

In any case, there are plenty of sensible options to replace Stevens as the Celtics’ new head coach. Let’s dive into the five best fits, starting with some honorable mentions who just missed the cut.

Honorable mentions: Becky Hammon, Jay Larranaga, Jay Wright, Kenny Atkinson, Nate McMillan, Jeff Van Gundy, Wes Unseld Jr., Jarron Collins, Kara Lawson, Juwan Howard, Mark Jackson

5. Terry Stotts

Terry Stotts is a long-shot candidate considering he’s still employed by the Portland Trail Blazers, but according to buzz from around the league last month, he’s not expected to return, barring a deep playoff run that forces the front office to rethink things. Currently down 3-2 in their first-round series against the Denver Nuggets, Rip City has a lot of ground to make up on that front.

Stotts wouldn’t be the sexiest choice given how his last few years in Portland have gone, but he’s a very good, proven coach with ample playoff experience, and much like the Blazers could simply need a change of pace, perhaps Stotts would thrive with a change of scenery as well. People have been too quick to assign Portland’s defensive woes to him, when in reality, the team’s biggest flaws have always been about their personnel and poor roster construction.

Boasting a career .515 win percentage, Stotts has led the Blazers to the playoffs in eight straight seasons, including a Western Conference Finals appearance in 2019. The Celtics already have the makings of a better defense, so perhaps a steady, experienced hand — with Stevens tweaking the roster based on his own experiences with the team — would prove to be a winning combination. They’d just have to wait for Stotts to become available first.