For the second successive week running, Brad Stevens added another top assistant coach to support Joe Mazzulla and the Boston Celtics’ Banner 18 mission.
Once Joe Puntry and Patrick Mutombo were confirmed to be added to Adrian Griffin’s coaching staff with the Milwaukee Bucks, it was almost a matter of time before talented assistant Charles Lee found a landing spot. Rumors were spread last week following the hire of Sam Cassell that Lee was the next target for Brad Stevens who knows the importance of experience on the bench next season. This coaching staff went from having no NBA champions to two that have combined for four in just a matter of days.
On Sunday afternoon, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported that Lee is set to become the new lead assistant coach for the Boston Celtics. The 38-year-old Washington D.C native has been an assistant in the NBA since 2014 working under Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta and Milwaukee. In his final campaign working under Budenholzer, Lee was second in command. Due to the respect that many around the league have for him and the job he did helping to lead the Bucks to the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed, Lee was considered for two head coaching vacancies before he signed with Boston.
The former Bucknell star won the Patriot League Player of the Year just like current Boston Celtics big man Mike Muscala, who accomplished that feat twice. Although he never played in the NBA, missing the cut for a San Antonio Spurs roster spot, Lee played four years overseas in Germany, Belgium, and Israel. The former Hawks assistant had to be attractive to Stevens due to his work with players like Al Horford, and Malcolm Brogdon in the past during his previous stops.
Bringing in Cassell is one thing, but adding both the former 2008 champion and Lee to the bench creates one of the most talented and experienced staffs in the association. Next season, Boston will essentially have three head coaches supporting the growth of a team that crumbled away the perfect opportunity at a title. Mazzulla, who had a whole lot of weight on his shoulders during the second half of the season receives the support he desperately needed this past May.
The hope is that with two well-versed men beside him, there is nothing else the former West Virginia man might need to guide this ball club to where it should be.
Charles Lee comes to Boston Celtics after an impressive stint with east foe
Lee was critical in the development of players like Grayson Allen, Khris Middleton, and most recently MarJon Beauchamp in his final season in Wisconsin. From working on Wall Street one day to being one of the key minds of a championship winner, Lee clearly has the work ethic that is required to continue this associate head coaching role in one of the most demanding sports towns across the United States.
The two-time Patriot League tournament MVP is known to be the person that exudes positivity. Lee told The Athletic that being honest is one of the most critical parts of coaching the best of the best in the NBA. In the profile that The Athletic did in 2022, Lee dove deep into the three pillars of his coaching philosophy, daily improvement, togetherness, and competitiveness. While he was targeted both as a head coach for the past two seasons and as a top assistant across the league, Stevens was the one that landed him.
Who knows if Stevens was the one who pushed this over the line, but at the end of the day, this addition is arguably as vital as bringing in a rotational player via free agency. Lee may not be the one making the decisions between the lines anymore, but his instruction and wisdom have played a part in bringing a fringe playoff team to an NBA champion in three years’ time.
For players like Derrick White, and Brogdon, this is a coach that can help take their games to the next level. They may not be in the NBA Finals like the Denver Nuggets, and Miami Heat, but Boston is making sure that they do everything they can to surround this talented team with the right people in order to be there next June. Similar to Cassell, one day Lee will be an NBA head coach, but until then, he will work side by side with Mazzulla as they seek to discover the right winning recipe for this ball club.