Nets passed on former Boston Celtics coach: Mazzulla should now be named head coach

With the Brooklyn Nets out on hiring Ime Udoka, the Boston Celtics should now announce Joe Mazzulla as the permanent head coach (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
With the Brooklyn Nets out on hiring Ime Udoka, the Boston Celtics should now announce Joe Mazzulla as the permanent head coach (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

After confirmation of the firing of Steve Nash and the speculation of hiring former Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, the Brooklyn Nets have decided to go in a completely different direction to help right the ship of a talented but drama-filled team. Jacque Vaughn, the former interim boss with Brooklyn following the departure of Kenny Atkinson has now taken over the reins of the Nets. Just a few days before the hiring, it looked like Udoka was bound to return to Barclays Center, but due to some negative feedback, and plenty of public outcries, Joe Tsai decided to turn his head away from a decision that was bound to rock the league and its fans to the core.

The better Boston looks under Mazzulla this season, the worse Udoka’s chances of coming back to the Celtics at the end of the season. Brooklyn will not be the only team over the next year to inquire about Udoka and place him at the top of the list, but nobody is going to be able to take away how he reportedly speaks to women.

Who knows how many teams at the end of the season are going to be looking for coaches, and at this moment in time, the Boston Celtics are in a confusing situation with a more than capable coach at the helm, and the other waiting to return to his job due to a disciplinary issue. What is going to happen at the end of the season? What if Boston makes it back to the Finals under Mazzulla or even wins the whole thing? When it comes down to it, if the dysfunctional Nets are not willing to sign a coach with off-the-court issues, the odds of another team putting their complete faith in him are slim to none.

Before the news broke that Udoka was not taking over in Brooklyn, Marcus Smart expressed his opinion on the matter, stating:

"“His name got slandered and slaughtered and it was ‘He’ll probably never coach again…And a couple of months later, now he’s possibly going to be the coach of one of our biggest rivals…It’s tough. It makes no sense. But we can’t control that. We have to control what we can, and I love the team here. I love the coaching staff. I love Joe.”"

Joe Mazzulla proved he could be a long-term HC option for the Boston Celtics

The way the Boston Celtics are playing on both ends of the floor, especially on the offensive side of the ball under the former West Virginia guard early on in the season should tell ownership he is more than capable of taking the reins for the long run. There has no doubt been hiccups, especially with late-game execution, and some decision-making late in a close game, but there is no question that with time, Mazzulla could be talked about like Brad Stevens was during his time on the sidelines. Boston ranks second in most points scored per game, behind only the Utah Jazz, and is top-10 in field-goal percentage against over the last seven games.

Mazzulla is running a well-oiled machine, led by a rejuvenated Jayson Tatum and a talent-filled roster that wants to finish the job from last season no matter the circumstances. There are not many arguments for why Mazzulla should not be named the official head coach of the Boston Celtics. He may only be 34 years old, but he led a team to the NCAA Tournament, coached a G-League team, and sat on the bench as an assistant under both Stevens and Udoka.

It may be early, and while Boston looks like a contender right now, it may even out in a few months, but what this team has shown early on is an identity. It took time for Udoka to get adjusted to life as the leader of a coaching staff, and while it has for Mazzulla as well, the results are the complete opposite comparing last season’s start to the one the Celtics are in the midst of at the moment.

A lot of the credit could go to Udoka and the job he did towards the end of the season, but there is a lot to say for someone that gets thrown into a position of power and has the ability to adjust this quickly. Just a few months ago, Mazzulla was not planning on being the head coach of the defending Eastern Conference champions, and now he is putting together plays to present Tatum with the chance to tie the game before regulation.

The players adore Mazzulla, and even though Smart wished Udoka was in the locker room, the entire organization knows he threw away a chance of a lifetime to lead a team that had so many high expectations going into the 2022/23 season. It may be a few months before the Boston Celtics take the interim tag off, but signing Mazzulla not only rewards a job well done, it leaves a man without a job that deserves to look himself in the mirror for quite a while longer.