How Danny Ainge Felt About Celtics Owner Rejecting Joe Mazzulla Request

'I completely understand their side'


Dec 27, 2022

Will Hardy wasn’t the only coach who Danny Ainge wanted to pluck from the Celtics over the offseason.

Hardy, an assistant on Ime Udoka’s staff last season, left Boston in order to become the new head coach of the Utah Jazz. And as Ainge retooled Utah’s coaching staff in wake of Quin Snyder’s departure, he was hoping to interview Joe Mazzulla, another assistant on Udoka’s staff who was quickly making a name for himself as an up-and-coming coach.

The request was rejected by Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, who joked he would’ve flown out to Utah and “personally strangled” Ainge if the Jazz swiped Mazzulla. In a recent interview with The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, Ainge explained how he felt about not having a chance to talk shop with Mazzulla over the summer.

“They were very generous to give us permission to talk to them,” Ainge told Himmelsbach. “Some teams really fight even giving you permission, because they don’t have to. It’s just kind of an unwritten rule that if a guy could get a big promotion, you would let him. So Brad (Stevens) understands that as much as anybody. But I completely understand their side.

“And Joe was a real high priority for us, not only because he did really well in the head coach interview process with us, but he was also somebody Will would have loved to work with.”

Grousbeck and company’s decision to put faith in Mazzulla has looked like the right one. The Celtics entered Tuesday with the NBA’s best record and look built to make a deep postseason run.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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