Damon Stoudamire

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Brunson, Robinson, Stoudamire

Even after emerging as the new betting favorite to win this season’s MVP award, Sixers center Joel Embiid believes he can still take his game to another level this spring, as he tells Spencer Davies of BasketballNews.com.

“I don’t think I’m at my best yet. I think I’m trending towards that. I think I’ve got a lot more to give,” Embiid said. “Defensively, I’m getting there. I’m getting back to myself. Usually, I take another step in the playoffs.”

Embiid’s eye-popping numbers this season include a league-leading 33.5 points per game on .546/.355/.855 shooting. The Sixers have a plus-8.8 net rating when he’s on the court, compared to a minus-0.1 mark when he’s off it.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson, who missed five of the team’s last six games due to what he described as a bone bruise in his left foot, didn’t miss a beat in his return to action on Saturday, scoring 24 points to lead the team to a comeback win over Denver, writes Ethan Sears of The New York Post.
  • Following Saturday’s win, Knicks center Mitchell Robinson wasn’t interested in talking about the Snapchat posts he made on Tuesday griping about his role, telling reporters that he’s “moving forward.” As Sears relays for The Post, Robinson explained on Instagram on Friday that his outburst was related to off-court family issues, and his teammates seemed unbothered by his Snapchat content. “We’re all brothers, so we kinda even joked about it on the plane a little bit,” Immanuel Quickley said. “Mitch, he’s a great guy off the floor. Obviously I think everybody knows that. He’s like, a character. He can be funny and outgoing a little bit. “So we understand who Mitch is and we told him, any time we can help you get the ball a little bit more, we’re gonna try to do that.”
  • Speaking to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe, Damon Stoudamire said it wasn’t easy to leave his position as a Celtics assistant as the season enters the home stretch and that he has “nothing but great memories” of his time in Boston. However, he felt he couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to become Georgia Tech’s new head coach. “I think this is an opportunity for me to just see where I stand,” Stoudamire said. “I always want an opportunity on this stage to test who I am, not only as a coach, but test my character, perseverance, and toughness.”

Celtics Notes: Griffin, Tatum, Smart, Stoudamire

Celtics players have been impressed by the way former All-Star Blake Griffin has made the transition to role player. Griffin’s work ethic hasn’t waned, even though he’s no longer the high-flying, high-scoring big man who starred for the Clippers and Pistons, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe writes.

“You just don’t see that with guys that were at his level,” forward Jayson Tatum said. “It’s been really unique to see. I appreciate that a lot. The guys do as well. He never makes it about himself, and it’s contagious. His energy, his enthusiasm, his personality. We’re all very fortunate to have him as a teammate, because everybody respects him and respects what he’s accomplished, and his voice carries.”

Griffin is on a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract and will be a free agent again this summer.

We have more on the Celtics:

  • Tatum may be a candidate for the Most Valuable Player award and All-NBA First Team accolades but he’s only got one goal in mind, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. “The only thing that matters to me is winning a championship,” Tatum said. “Not MVP, not first-team All-NBA, none of that. I want to get back to the Finals and get over the hump.”
  • Marcus Smart has been fined $25K for initiating an on-court altercation and pulling Hawks guard Trae Young to the floor, the NBA PR department tweets. Both players were assessed a technical foul and Smart was ejected during the altercation, which occurred with 1:25 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Celtics’ 134-125 win over the Hawks on Saturday.
  • The team has no plans to immediately replace Damon Stoudamire on Joe Muzzalla‘s staff, Himmelsbach tweets. Stoudamire left his assistant coaching job to become Georgia Tech’s head coach.

Damon Stoudamire Departing Celtics To Become Georgia Tech Head Coach

2:18pm: Stoudamire has officially been named Georgia Tech’s new head coach, the school announced in a press release.

Stoudamire’s last game as an assistant with the Celtics will be on Monday, as Georgia Tech plans to hold a press conference on Tuesday to introduce him as the new head coach, per Goodman (Twitter link). Stoudamire will receive a five-year contract, sources tell Pete Thamel and Jeff Borzello of ESPN.

7:59am: Celtics assistant coach Damon Stoudamire is considered a “strong candidate” to become the next head coach at Georgia Tech, tweets Jeff Goodman of Stadium.

The school fired Josh Pastner on Friday after a 15-18 campaign. He had just three winning seasons and one NCAA Tournament appearance in seven years with the Yellow Jackets.

Goodman notes that Stoudamire has a track record as a successful college coach at Pacific, where he was named West Coast Conference Coach of the Year for the 2019/20 season. He also spent time as an assistant at Arizona and Memphis.

Stoudamire, 49, left Pacific in 2021 to join Ime Udoka’s staff when he was hired as the head coach in Boston. He remained in his position when Udoka was suspended and Joe Mazzulla took over the Celtics, and he filled in for Mazzulla in December when he missed two games with corneal abrasions.

Stoudamire was named Rookie of the Year in 1996 and played 13 NBA seasons with the Raptors, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies and Spurs.

Celtics Notes: Udoka, Stoudamire, All-Star Game, Smart

Celtics assistant coach Damon Stoudamire said he frequently checks in with suspended coach Ime Udoka, whom he’s known for 30 years. Stoudamire has tried to give him advice and keep his spirits high, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reports.

“I think that everything that happens to you, when it hits you like this it can really get overwhelming,” Stoudamire said. “So that’s what I check on him about. I check on him to make sure he’s doing all right, and make sure his son is good, and that he’s able to find some type of peace within what he has going on. As a human being when you do something, you beat yourself down. And with the success that we’re having now, it’s human nature, man. You’re sitting there; you’re watching [the team]. I just think the biggest thing is that he’s able to, in his own way, come to some kind of resolution and peace in his mind so he can move forward.”

We have more on the Celtics:

  • In the same story, Stoudamire expressed a desire to be an NBA head coach. He was a head coach at Pacific prior to joining the Celtics staff. He filled in for interim coach Joe Mazzulla when Mazzulla missed a couple of games due to eye irritation. “Of course I want to be a head coach again, but more importantly I want to be prepared when the opportunity presents itself,” Stoudamire said.
  • The Celtics will file an application to host the 2026 All-Star Game, according to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. Boston has gone nearly 60 years without hosting it, mainly due to modest interest within the city and among the team’s ownership groups. That thinking has changed because the Celtics expect to remain in championship contention behind All-Star talents Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Having an upgraded facility, plus plenty of hotel space near the arena, has also encouraged the current owners to bid for the game.
  • Marcus Smart has been ruled out for Monday’s game in Orlando due to a sprained ankle suffered Saturday night in Toronto, Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets. Malcolm Brogdon will also miss the game due to personal reasons, while Robert Williams (knee) is questionable.

Celtics Notes: Mazzulla, Brown, Pritchard, Vonleh

Interim head coach Joe Mazzulla was back on the Celtics‘ bench Sunday night after missing two games with corneal abrasions, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Mazzulla was scratched in the eye while fighting for a rebound during a pickup game Tuesday at TD Garden.

It was difficult for him to see during a pre-game session with reporters that night, and he turned over the team to assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who also handled Thursday’s win over the Clippers. Mazzulla called the injury a “freak accident” and said it won’t stop him from playing pickup basketball.

“I wasn’t getting any better,” Mazzulla said about his condition Tuesday. “In that situation I thought it was a good opportunity to empower and entrust the staff and I didn’t feel like I was at my best and I didn’t want to be a distraction. It was a great opportunity (for Damon). It says a lot about the culture we have in place. It ran itself. Our staff really stepped up. (Damon) did a great job. I’m really happy for him.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Sunday’s loss at Denver included a 40-minute delay in the fourth quarter after Robert Williams bent the rim on a dunk (video link). Jaylen Brown was critical of how the incident was handled, saying there was “no communication” with players, per Souichi Terada of MassLive. “Spent all that time trying to fix it. But when we came back, it still looked like it wasn’t even level, in my opinion,” Brown said. “So we just wasted all that time that has an effect on the game. That’s how injuries and stuff happen. Luckily, they didn’t. But that wasn’t good. That whole process was handled poorly, in my opinion, and that had an effect on the game as well. Luckily, nobody got hurt.”
  • Brown brushed aside a fourth quarter altercation with Nuggets guard Bones Hyland, according to Brian Robb of MassLive. The players got tangled up when Brown fouled Hyland on a drive to the basket, and Hyland responded by pushing Brown to the floor. Brown got up and challenged Hyland before officials and teammates separated them. Both players received technical fouls, but they shook hands afterward. “It was just two guys being competitive,” Brown said. “Wasn’t no smoke behind it.”
  • The Celtics aren’t likely to trade Payton Pritchard before the February 9 deadline, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe states in a prediction column for the new year. He says Pritchard still has value to the team because he’s only 24 and would be needed in the event of a backcourt injury. Himmelsbach predicts a quiet deadline for Boston, which already parted with next year’s first-round pick in the Malcolm Brogdon trade. He also expects Noah Vonleh to be waived this week before his salary becomes fully guaranteed.

Atlantic Notes: Barrett, Brunson, Harden, Harris, Stoudamire

Knicks wing RJ Barrett is expected to miss around a week with a lacerated right index finger, a source tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Barrett sustained in the injury just two minutes into Tuesday’s loss to Dallas when he appeared to get scratched by Luka Doncic when the two players were vying for possession of the ball, per Bondy.

The 22-year-old has been ruled out for Thursday’s game against San Antonio, the Knicks announced (via Twitter). Jalen Brunson, who missed his first return to Dallas on Tuesday, is once again listed as questionable with right hip soreness.

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • Following up on weekend report indicating that James Harden is contemplating a return to Houston in free agency, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his Lowe Post podcast that there are “whispers around the league” that Harden wants to continue doing one-plus-one contracts going forward — in other words, a two-year deal with a player option (hat tip to RealGM). The star guard went that route last summer with the Sixers in free agency, opting for short-term flexibility over long-term security.
  • The Knicks reportedly had internal discussions about trading for forward Tobias Harris, which prompted Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com to examine the rumor from the Sixers‘ side of things. While Neubeck doesn’t doubt the veracity of the rumor, he also doesn’t think the Sixers would have any interest in what the Knicks might realistically offer for Harris, who has been a valuable contributor for Philadelphia in 2022/23, even if his contract isn’t ideal.
  • Former player and current Celtics assistant coach Damon Stoudamire has accumulated plenty of coaching credits since playing days ended, but Tuesday marked the first time he was the acting head coach in an NBA game, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (subscription required). Stoudamire, who hopes to become a head coach in the league, filled in when interim head coach Joe Mazzulla unexpectedly missed the win over Houston due to eye irritation, according to Washburn. “We pretty much knew what we wanted to do,” said Stoudamire, who only found out he’d be in charge about 15 minutes before tip-off. “Honestly, it’s a collaborative effort. Everybody plays their part in situations like this. And it’s been like this pretty much all season. For me, it was just a matter of going out there and truly not messing it up.”

Celtics Notes: Udoka, Stoudamire, Larranaga, Mazzulla

Suspended Celtics coach Ime Udoka‘s head coaching days in the NBA at large may be numbered, according to one connected source. During an interview with “DJ Vlad” Lyubovny on Lyubovny’s YouTube channel VladTV (YouTube link), player-turned-podcaster Matt Barnes voiced his skepticism regarding a long-term coaching future for Udoka, who led his team to a 51-31 season in 2021/22 and an NBA Finals appearance.

“It’s not about what he did, it’s about who he did it with,” Barnes said. “If everything comes out, he’ll be lucky to coach in the NBA again to be honest with you.”

There’s more out of Boston:

  • Celtics assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who is close friends with Udoka, wants to help Boston continue its trajectory as a perennial contender, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Stoudamire enjoyed a 13-year playing career during which he was named the 1996 Rookie of the Year. “Nothing has changed in the room in what the expectations and the goals are,” Stoudamire said. “We’ve got to be prepared from that standpoint, mentally more than anything, because I think physically things will be there. We’ll get to that point.”
  • Although Clippers assistant coach Jay Larranaga has opted to remain in Los Angeles, the Celtics are talking to additional assistant coach prospects to bolster the bench behind interim head coach Joe Mazzulla, reports Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link).
  • Mazzulla is retaining the structure and pacing of Udoka’s practices during training camp, but players have noticed differences in approach as the new interim coach strives to establish himself, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. “There’s similarities, but there’s some differences as well,” star wing Jaylen Brown said. “But at the end of the day, this group has been together for a while, so we hold each other accountable for what we need to do and the energy level practice gotta be at every single day.”

Celtics Notes: Tatum, Horford, Stoudamire

Coming off another poor shooting night, Jayson Tatum understands that he needs to improve for the Celtics to win the NBA title, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Tatum was 8-of-23 in the Game 4 loss and is shooting just 34% in the Finals.

“I give [the Warriors] credit,” he said. “They’re a great team. They’re playing well. They got a game plan, things like that. But it’s on me. I got to be better. I know I’m impacting the game in other ways, but I got to be more efficient, shoot the ball better, finish at the rim better. I take accountability for that.”

Tatum has been more effective as a passer than a shooter in the series, but Bontemps points out that he has 22 assists and four turnovers in Boston’s two wins, with nine assists and 10 turnovers in the two losses. Coach Ime Udoka believes Tatum is too focused on drawing fouls rather than trying to make his shots when there’s contact.

“At times he’s looking for fouls,” Udoka said. “They are a team that loads up in certain games. He’s finding the outlets. Shooting over two, three guys. That’s the balance of being aggressive and picking your spots and doing what he’s done in previous games, which is kicked it out and got wide-open looks. That’s the ongoing theme, so to speak. Him getting to the basket, being a scorer as well as a playmaker. They do a good job with their rotations. Sometimes hunting fouls instead of going to finish. I’ve seen that in a few games so far.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Boston has been mentioned in trade rumors involving numerous stars in recent years, but most of those deals fell through and the Celtics were forced to build through the draft rather than trying to form a super team, notes Sopan Deb of The New York Times. As a result, they have a young roster that looks like it can be a title contender for a long time.
  • At 36, Al Horford has adopted an elder statesman role and he’s excited to see his younger teammates succeed, per Tania Ganguli of The New York Times. “They’re different, they’ve grown, they’re much better,” Horford said. “This is kind of their team. This is kind of their time, you know? And I’m just happy to be a part of it now.”
  • Celtics assistant coach Damon Stoudamire wants the team to take inspiration from a tough loss he had with the Trail Blazers 22 years ago, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Portland led the Lakers by 13 points in the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the conference finals, but the game slipped away and Stoudamire never reached the NBA Finals as a player. “This group will never get this moment back,” he said of the current Celtics team. “That’s the way I look at it. But if we win together, we’ll be entrenched together. Our group texts now as a staff, as a team, it’ll be the group texts forever. We’ll share moments as a family because we won together. That, to me, is what this is all about.”

Celtics To Hire Damon Stoudamire As Assistant Coach

The Celtics are hiring former NBA guard Damon Stoudamire as an assistant under head coach Ime Udoka, according to Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link).

Stoudamire began his coaching career in 2009 and was the head coach at Pacific for the past five years. Before that, he spent time as an assistant coach with the Grizzlies, the University of Memphis, and the University of Arizona from 2009-16. Goodman also notes that Stoudamire and Udoka both grew up together in Portland.

Stoudamire was the No. 7 pick in the 1995 NBA Draft and spent 13 seasons as a player. He made stops with Toronto, Portland, Memphis and San Antonio throughout his career, averaging 13.4 points, 6.1 assists and 33.2 minutes in 878 games.

Boston hired Udoka after longtime coach Brad Stevens transitioned to the front office and became the team’s president of basketball operations last month. The Celtics mostly struggled in 2020/21 due to injury and COVID-related issues, finishing with just a 36-36 record.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Udoka, Stoudemire, Bridges

The Knicks enter free agency with the most cap space in the league and some major holes to fill. With that in mind, Ian Begley of SNY.tv explores some of their potential options on the wing.

Reggie Bullock and Alec Burks both had success playing different roles on the wing for the Knicks during their overachieving year, and there was midseason interest in bringing both back, but following a postseason that exposed the team’s lack of offensive creators and with options like Kelly Oubre, DeMar DeRozan, Will Barton, Duncan Robinson and others available, it’s unclear if the Knicks will want to spend significant money on Bullock and Burks.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks are closely watching the Damian Lillard situation, Begley reports. With Lillard reportedly considering his long-term future with the Blazers, and the Knicks employing Lillard’s mentor Johnnie Bryant as an assistant coach, the team is monitoring the All-Star guard in case a deal could be made. Begley writes that the team would also be content building patiently should a trade not materialize.
  • Norvel Pelle is looking to stick with the Knicks, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. The 6’10” center joined the team late, but provided a defensive spark off the bench, and was a willing and beloved team cheerleader, writes Berman. One NBA scout interviewed by Berman was impressed with the strides Pelle has made in recent years. “[He] looks like he’s reading angles better when switching on pick-and-rolls,” said the anonymous scout. “He’s avoiding foul trouble that way. We are talking about a guy who was [the] No. 1-ranked center in the country out of high school.”
  • Jay King of The Athletic profiles Celtics coach Ime Udoka, and how he found his calling as a coach. Much of the inspiration came from Isiah Thomas when Udoka played for Thomas on the Knicks in the 2005/06 season. “You may not see what your calling is,” Thomas told Udoka. “Your calling is coaching.” It took a long time for Udoka to accept that coaching could be his destiny rather than being an NBA star in his own right.
  • Former NBA point guard Damon Stoudamire is a target to join Ime Udoka on the Celtics coaching staff, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Stoudamire was the 2019/2020 WCC Coach of the Year for the Pacific Tigers.
  • The Sixers’ draft-night trade of Mikal Bridges to the Suns had a lasting impact on both teams. The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov dives deep into how the trade went down. Vorkunov writes that the Sixers had no intention of trading Bridges when they took him, but Zhaire Smith was tied with Bridges on their board, and when the Suns offered a 2021 Heat unprotected pick, the Sixers felt they couldn’t say no. “If second-round picks are cigarettes in prison,” said one anonymous source interviewed by Vorkunov, “unprotected picks are conjugal visits.”