Sometime during the decision to suspend Ime Udoka for the season, the Celtics contemplated the idea of bringing Brad Stevens back as a replacement, as relayed by Brian Robb of MassLive.
Stevens currently serves as the team’s head of basketball operations — a position he’s held for one season, after coaching the Celtics for eight. During that time, the Celtics went 354-282.
“We did have a conversation,” Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck said, via Robb. “A brief one.”
Instead, the Celtics have decided that assistant Joe Mazzulla will serve as interim head coach in Udoka’s absence. Udoka was suspended after having what was deemed an inappropriate relationship with a female employee. His future with the club beyond this year is in doubt.
“Joe is the best choice to do that by a long shot,” Stevens said, via Robb. “So as you go through this whole process, it all hits you, but I think we have the best people in place to do that, and Joe is the best person to do that in our organization.
“I think the other part of it is, there’s a lot of factors in play of why I wouldn’t necessarily even want to do that.”
Stevens added that he will help Mazzulla as much as the first-time head coach needs.
“I do think that — and I’ve told Joe this — I’m going to be there for him without stepping on his toes as much as he needs, but he doesn’t need much,” Stevens said. “I believe in that strongly. And hopefully, I can help him with any questions he has as he goes through it, but sometimes you just need someone who has been there next to you, to be able to go in and let your shoulders down and talk about what you’re going through, and hopefully, I can be that for him.”
The Celtics very well could add an extra assistant, with former Lakers coach Frank Vogel being a rumored name to watch. Stevens did not get into specifics on that, though.
“We haven’t gone into a ton of discussions about adding to the staff,” Stevens said. “I think the staff checks a lot of boxes as is. There may be an addition. But I believe, we have several young coaches but several of them have years and years of experience. I referred to Damon Stoudamire and Ben (Sullivan) because I think they have the most experience and I think they’re really really going to help us. I think they’re people we considered too. They’re future head coaches.”
The decision to suspend Udoka for the season came Thursday, after a “closed-door meeting” that included team owners and Stevens, after which Stevens met with the players, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The Celtics released a statement saying that Udoka’s future beyond this season “will be made at a later date.”
Udoka was apologetic in a prepared statement of his own.
“I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down,” Udoka said. “I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team’s decision. Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment.”
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