The NBA off-season never seems to disappoint. From new stories of unhappy stars like Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson to surprising coaching openings and new coaching free agents, this week has led to more speculation and wild possibilities. For fans, speculating about what could possibly be next is the fun part, and at Hardwood Houdini we are here for the speculation regarding the first order of business for our Boston Celtics: a new head coach.
Brad Stevens has been very deliberate with selecting his replacement, and for good reason. First of all, this is a crucial first hire for the rookie President of Basketball Operations, one that he can ill afford to get wrong, and secondly, as we have seen this week you never know what coaches may become available as the off-season carries on.
Scott Brooks and Rick Carlisle are both recent surprising coaching free agents. While Rick Carlisle resigning from the Dallas Mavericks was certainly more surprising, the Scott Brooks decision was still certainly surprising. Scott Brooks is a veteran NBA head coach who has quite an impressive resume, including an NBA Finals and multiple appearances in the conference finals, and a winning record as a head coach at 521-414.
Brooks would not be the big splashy name that many Celtics fans may want, but the flashy hire is not always the best hire, and Brooks has plenty to offer the Celtics. The former Wizards coach has a proven ability to relate to players and superstar players.
Russell Westbrook was reportedly very fond of Brooks and Kevin Durant respected him as well. Brooks also did a very good job with the young big three of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden early in his coaching career taking them to the NBA Finals only to face Lebron James and his Miami Heat.
Brooks’s teams seemed to play hard and were solid defensively, but his offenses often were criticized for being stale and lacking ball and player movement. This criticism of his offense was fair.
This should be a red flag for Stevens. The Cs need to make sure that their offensive scheme is creative and modern in order to maximize the talents of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Scott Brooks is a solid coach, and will likely coach again in the NBA, but he probably wouldn’t be a great fit for Brad and the Boston Celtics.
I must confess, while I found the Brooks somewhat surprising, I found the Rick Carlisle news shocking. Carlisle is a well-respected coach throughout the NBA and is highly respected by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
Furthermore, Cuban is someone who doesn’t make changing coaches a habit. In Cuban’s time in Dallas, the Mavericks have only had 3 coaches and Mark Cuban has only fired one coach in Avery Johnson.
Even more telling, a little over a week ago Cuban completely dismissed the idea of replacing Carlisle telling ESPN Insider Tim McMahon “Let me tell you how I look at coaching. You don’t make a change to make a change. Unless you have someone who you know is much much, much better, the grass is rarely greener on the other side”.
That quote alone tells you that Cuban had no interest in moving on from Carlisle. Cuban knows that it is hard to find a better coach than Carlisle. However, Cuban now has no choice but to move on from Carlisle, since Carlisle announced his resignation as the Mavericks head coach.
Coaches don’t often quit jobs that involve coaching players as talented as Luka Doncic, so Carlisle moving on from the Mavericks tells you that the Dallas front office situation is a mess, and he must feel very confident that he can get another very good job quickly.
Carlisle does not seem to be done coaching. First of all, he termed his leaving the mavericks as resignation, not a retirement, and in his statement, Carlisle said he looks forward to “the next chapter in his coaching life.”
Carlisle seemingly intends to coach again very soon, probably as soon as next season, and the way that this move went down makes you wonder if Carlisle already has his next move planned. Could his next move be the Boston Celtics?
The possibility can’t be dismissed. I have heard a lot of speculation that Carlisle could be eyeing the Milwaukee Bucks for his next job, but that job isn’t even currently available, and unlike the Celtics, he has no ties to Milwaukee Bucks.
Carlisle played for the Boston Celtics in the 1980s and was a teammate of none other than Danny Ainge. Ainge has a great deal of respect for Rick Carlisle, and even though he recently retired you can bet Stevens is discussing this decision with Ainge.
Carlisle is widely considered one of the best x’s and o’s coaches in the NBA and is an NBA champion as a player and a head coach. His coaching resume includes an NBA championship, multiple appearances in the conference finals, and over 800 wins as an NBA head coach.
For the past two weeks, we have heard a lot about the need for the Boston Celtics to hire a former player and a minority as their next head coach, and that is for good reason. However, with all of these hires comes a big risk.
No one knows how Kara Lawson or Becky Hammon, or Sam Cassel will fare as an NBA head coach. They are unproven coaches at the NBA level. It could be argued that Stevens can’t afford to play it safe with this hire, but in terms of past success and experience, it’s also hard to call Carlisle a bad hire for Brad Stevens.
Carlisle could have no interest in the Boston Celtics job and vice versa, but the timing of his resignation from the Dallas Mavericks at the very least makes Carlisle to Boston an interesting possibility, and in the NBA no possibility can be dismissed.