Head coach candidates have emerged after the Celtics front office moves. Brad Stevens will move to a full-time front office role as Ainge retires, which leaves a head coach vacancy. The candidates include current Lakers’ assistant Jason Kidd, former Hawks’ head coach Llyod Pierce, and well-respected assistant for the Nets, Ime Udoka.
The Celtics fell to the 7th seed this season after reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in the prior year. While the Celtics dealt with numerous injuries and COVID absences this season, there are higher expectations for the team.
Kidd, Pierce, and Udoka are all well-respected by players throughout the league. Giannis Antetokoumpo credited Kidd for his development during his tenure as Bucks’ head coach. Because of his esteem as a player, the Lakers brought him in as a voice equal to LeBron James and Antony Davis. He could share some wisdom regarding playmaking to Tatum and Brown, which would unlock the Celtics offense.
Pierce has become well-known for his work in social justice. He was one of the advocates in the NBA for the league taking action in using arenas as voting centers. Jaylen Brown expressed his desire to work with Pierce in the Atlanta area regarding voting. In terms of work as a coach, Pierce was fired by the Hawks this season. Pierce and Hawks star Trae Young didn’t see eye to eye, which led to friction in the locker room. On an older team, his voice might be more accepted.
Chris Mannix reported Ime Udoka was also a candidate for the Celtics job.
Udoka is a former player for the Portland Trailblazers and San Antonio Spurs. He became an important assistant with the Spurs. He also was on the staff that won the championship in 2014. Udoka also has great respect amongst players. Udoka was instrumental in helping to bring LaMarcus Aldrige to the Spurs when San Antonio wasn’t a free agent destination. Aldridge was the first big-name free agent to sign with the Spurs in recent memory. Udoka’s relationship with Aldridge stemming from his Trailblazer days was crucial in bringing him in.
Udoka was brought onto the Nets coaching staff this past offseason by Steve Nash for his defensive expertise. The Celtics have the potential to be an elite group on that end. Udoka could help them tap into that.
So far, the list of candidates is promising. Each of them have the potential to develop a great relationship with the locker room.