If having previous head coaching experience in the NBA isn’t the top priority for the Boston Celtics in their search for their next head coach, then hiring Becky Hammon or Kara Lawson makes as much sense as many of the other names that have been linked to the Celtics’ job.
Recently, a billboard was emblazoned with the plea to Boston to “shake it up” by hiring either Lawson or Hammon, and I have to say, I’m completely in agreement.
This isn’t just about sending a message, making history, or shaking things up, though; both Hammon and Lawson are literally as qualified, if not more so than some of their male counterparts who have been mentioned in Boston’s search.
Two names that have been mentioned ad nauseum with the Celtics’ head coaching position have been Chauncey Billups and Sam Cassell. Both were successful professional basketball players who have been assistant coaches. Cassell has over a decade of coaching experience as an assistant in the NBA, while Billups just finished up his first year as an assistant with the Clippers this past season.
The appeal of hiring a player-turned-coach is seemingly at an all-time high with Celtics fans, and for good reason. That kind of attitude and culture seems to be exactly what Boston needs with several young playmakers on the roster in need of a strong guiding hand.
That player-turned-coach doesn’t have to be a man, however.
Becky Hammon was a wildly successful WNBA player and has been an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs for nearly a decade. Her resume is comparable to Cassell’s in that regard, excluding the fact that Cassell did play for Boston for a season before retiring.
Kara Lawson was also an accomplished player in the WNBA and served as an assistant with the Celtics for a season before taking the head coaching job of Duke’s women’s basketball program last offseason. On paper, her resume as a coach is even more impressive than Billups’ record. In fact, Lawson’s existing relationships with many of Boston’s current players make her an even more ideal fit than many of the other names tied to the position.
The next Boston Celtics head coaching hire needs to be a good fit first and foremost, but it also needs to make a statement. Going after a retread head coach or falling back on a “safe” hire will send the wrong message to the players and fans.
On the other hand, taking an unnecessary risk and hiring an off-the-wall candidate could do the same. Brad Stevens needs to be calculated and savvy with this hire.
Both Cassell and Billups seem like qualified candidates, and both have qualities that would inspire optimism from fans. If that’s the route Boston wants to go down, then why not give Hammon and Lawson just as much consideration?
If you’re going to hire an unproven head coach who played the sport at a high level, why not make it a little unconventional in the process?
It’s time for Boston to take a leap of faith. This isn’t just about making history or winning over the media; it’s about making the hire that will help the Boston Celtics hang another banner in TD Garden. Becky Hammon and Kara Lawson have just as much of a chance of doing that as Chauncey Billups or Sam Cassell.