One NBA analyst believes the Celtics made a premature decision on Joe Mazulla.
After Boston issued a season-long suspension to Ime Udoka, Mazzulla was elevated to interim head coach. The 34-year-old earned a promotion in short order, as the Celtics in February dropped the interim tag and gave Mazzulla a contract extension. The Rhode Island native rewarded the organization by leading Boston to a deep playoff run, but it was a trek that fell short of the NBA Finals.
Mazzulla received warranted criticism over the course of the Celtics’ march to Eastern Conference finals Game 7 and his under-the-spotlight shortcomings coincided with several high-profile coaches hitting the open market. While he might benefit from some hindsight, Stadium’s Jeff Goodman believes Boston jumped the gun with its investment in Mazzulla.
“I think that they made a poor business decision,” Goodman said Wednesday on “The Greg Hill Show,” as transcribed by WEEI. “When you look at it, you say to yourself, what mattered this year? The regular season didn’t mean a whole hell of a lot, let’s be honest. All that mattered was how far this team went in the playoffs. If they had been swept by Miami, then I think it would be a little bit different story. They came back. Obviously they were embarrassed in Game 7 here, but they at least made it a series. They fought back. You could say they fought for Joe Mazzulla, but they fought for themselves, let’s be honest. You’re not playing for a coach. You’re playing for yourself, and pride.
“But yeah, I think if they had to do it all over, they might’ve… what do you do right now? If you had let that run out, are you gonna let him go? If you can get Monty Williams or someone like that, yeah, you probably are.”
Mazzulla reportedly has three years and $14 million in guaranteed money on his current contract. Those figures surely factor into why Boston reportedly won’t move on from Mazzulla this offseason, even with appealing candidates like Williams and others available for hire.
That being said, Mazzulla will face a great deal of pressure to make marked improvements in the 2023-24 campaign.