We’ve spent all week analyzing some of the more likely candidates for the Boston Celtics’ head coaching vacancy, from the game-changers (Kara Lawson, Becky Hammon) to former coaches (Sam Cassell, Chauncey Billups) to retreads (Lloyd Pierce, David Fizdale) to current NBA assistants (Ime Udoka, Darvin Ham).
Now it’s time to get a little weird.
If you rewind the tape to early July 2013, you’d find that no one was on the scent about a potential Brad Stevens hire. There was an awful lot of ink spilled about the likes of Vinny Del Negro and David Blatt and Brett Brown. But Danny Ainge and the Celtics quietly locked in on Stevens, stealthy flew to Indianapolis to recruit him, then dropped the stunner in a 5 p.m. press release on July 3.
Forsberg's candidate profiles: Ham, Udoka, Vasnterpool | Pierce, Fizdale | Hammon, Lawson | Cassell, Billups
So who would be some of the more surprising names to land the Celtics gig this time around? Let’s throw out some names ranging from legitimate candidates to fantasyland:
Juwan Howard: The only surprise here would be Howard electing to leave Michigan. He’s more than qualified to be an NBA head coach given both his nearly two decades of NBA playing experience plus six seasons as an assistant on Erik Spoelstra’s staff in Miami. ESPN reported this week that Howard is not interested in even discussing current NBA vacancies. His son, Jace, is also on the Wolverines roster entering his sophomore year in the fall.
Mike D’Antoni: The Celtics could use a bit of an offensive punch up and it would be fascinating to see what D’Antoni could do with Boston’s talent. You’d be taking away a key assistant from the rival Nets, too. But given Boston’s penchant for stability, we don’t see the Celtics hiring a 70-year-old head coach (unless an obvious heir apparent is part of the package).
Jason Kidd: It felt odd that Kidd's name was one of the first to get floated as a possible Stevens replacement. Unlike Portland, where Damian Lillard openly pined for Kidd as the Blazers’ next coach, there’s no obvious Boston connection. In fact, Kidd had a particularly bad experience as a visiting player here during the 2002 playoffs.
Chris Holtmann: A subscriber to “The Butler Way” and one of the few who knows what it’s actually like to have to follow Stevens (well, technically Brandon Miller knows best but Holtmann was on that first Butler staff after Stevens departed for Boston). Despite the temptation, we suspect the next Celtics coach won’t have obvious Butler ties.
Mike Brown: It’s almost astounding the amount of talent that Brown has been around during his NBA coaching career. From his roots as a San Antonio assistant, to the multiple stints in Cleveland, to succeeding Phil Jackson in Los Angeles, to his current gig with the Warriors, Brown has routinely been around high-level talent. He’s still only 51. He’d be a surprise only in the sense that we don’t understand why his name doesn’t come up more often given his resume.
Jeff Van Gundy: It’s been 14 years since Van Gundy last coached in the NBA but his name invariably comes up every summer given the vacancies around the league. The 59-year-old Van Gundy has a pretty good gig going with ESPN and that’s probably enough to resist any urge to dive back into the coaching grind.
Mike Krzyzewski: There were a lot of people that used to joke that Stevens would replace Krzyzewski when he hung up his whistle at Duke. So what if the opposite happened? Alas, if the Celtics hire a current Duke coach, it probably won’t be Coach K.
Penny Hardaway: If Hardaway gets a coaching job this offseason it’s gotta be Orlando, right? But Jayson Tatum did work out with Hardaway back in 2018 so there’s at least a small connection to ponder.
Larry Bird: They’d probably build a statue for Stevens if he found a way to recruit his fellow Indiana native back to Boston. But, well, Rick Pitino was probably right when he said Larry Bird isn’t walking through that door.
Rick Pitino: Just kidding.