Joe Mazzulla will return as the Celtics’ head coach, president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said in a press conference on Thursday, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets.
Mazzulla was thrust into the head coaching job just as the season was set to begin when Ime Udoka was suspended by the team for the season. Mazzulla eventually had the interim tag removed and received an extension in mid-season.
Questions about Mazzulla’s status arose as the Celtics fell behind 3-0 in the best-of-seven series to underdog Miami in the conference finals. Boston rallied to tie the series but played poorly in Game 7 after Jayson Tatum suffered a first-quarter injury and got eliminated on its home floor.
Stevens believes that Mazzulla will benefit from having been thrown into the fire this past season, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston tweets.
“Joe’s experience now, you could probably measure in dog years, right? Because he’s now been in three Eastern Conference finals and a Finals,” said Stevens, referring to Mazzulla’s stint as an assistant as well as this season. “Now he’s been the head coach throughout one of those runs, I mean that’s an experience in and of itself.”
Stevens believes Mazzulla has the leadership qualities to be a head coach for many seasons, Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets.
“He’s a terrific leader,” he said. “He’ll only get better at anything that he can learn from this year cause he’s constantly trying to learn and he’s accountable. Those leadership qualities are hard to find.”
Mazzulla will have some different voices on the staff, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). The staff is expected to be overhauled, with former Rockets coach Stephen Silas a leading candidate to be one of those additions.