Throughout Brad Stevens’ two seasons as President of Basketball Operations for the Boston Celtics, he has mostly made great moves. He hired Ime Udoka and then made the right decision to let him go, made the trade for Malcolm Brogdon, and traded for Al Horford. These moves and many others have been celebrated by Celtics fans.
However, one mistake that Stevens made that no one is talking about is his decision to give Joe Mazzulla an extension before the completion of his first season.
Back in February, when the Cs were the number one team in the league, Mazzulla was given a contract extension, and his interim tag was lifted. It was well received by Boston Celtics fans, but I questioned the move at the time. Given the team’s recent struggles, the decision to give Mazzulla an extension looks premature — considering he has not yet finished his first season and has no tangible achievements on his resume.
Being hired as full-time Boston Celtics head coach took pressure off Joe Mazzulla
The move takes away the pressure that I think Mazzulla needed because he is still a young coach. I liked the pressure that the Celtics were facing this season, and I think a big part of their hot start to the season was a result of the mindset from Mazzulla.
The decision to remove the interim tag takes some of Mazzulla’s motivation away and the fire that the team was playing with.
In a season where the Celtics are in win-now mode, I don’t like the fact that Mazzulla now knows that his job is secure. The Celtics should have followed the strategy that the Cleveland Cavaliers did with Tyronn Lue where he did not receive a permanent job until after his first season as interim, which culminated in a championship.
The mistake from Stevens needs to be talked about more because I think we are already starting to see slippage with Mazzulla. For example, his ATO (out of timeout) plays have been poor this season, as he only really has one. Furthermore, I think his sometimes lazy style is not good for this team because it was fueled by hard-nosed coaching from Udoka a season ago.
Overall, it will interesting to see how people view this decision from Stevens after the season.