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Celtics remove interim tag, officially make Joe Mazzulla head coach

New York Knicks (120) Vs. Boston Celtics (117) At TD Garden (OT)

Boston, MA - January 26: Boston Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla points something out in the third quarter. The Celtics lost to the New York Knicks, 120-117, in overtime. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Boston Globe via Getty Images

Joe Mazzulla got thrust from the back bench into one of the highest-profile coaching jobs in the NBA. When the Celtics suspended Ime Udoka following an inappropriate relationship with a team staff member, Mazzulla was given the interim head coaching job. He did an impressive job not letting the Celtics’ locker room lose focus despite the massive distraction, and Boston heads into the All-Star break with the best record in the NBA (and he will be coaching in the All-Star Game).

Thursday the Celtics removed the interim tag from Mazzulla’s title.

“As he has shown, Joe is a very talented coach and leader,” Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said in a statement. “He has a unique ability to galvanize a room around a mission. We are thankful for the work he has done to help get us to this point, and excited that he has agreed to lead us into the future.”

The Celtics also gave Mazzulla a contract extension along with the new title.

It’s unclear what this means for Udoka. While it was always highly unlikely he would return to coach the Celtics, he is still under contract and in limbo now. The Brooklyn Nets strongly considered hiring Udoka after firing Steve Nash but backed off that idea because of the nature of his suspension from the Celtics.