Could Celtics Replace Joe Mazzulla? Here Are Head Coach Options

It's difficult to envision Mazzulla being let go, but stranger things have happened


May 31, 2023

The calls for Joe Mazzulla’s job seemingly have quieted down a bit despite the fact Boston Celtics were eliminated by the Miami Heat on Monday after a loss in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Perhaps that’s because Green Teamers were encouraged by the development Mazzulla showed in the final four games of the series as Boston tried to become the first NBA team to come back from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven.

Or perhaps it’s because a population of Celtics fans know Mazzulla, while possessing his own faults, was not the biggest reason Boston’s season again ended in disappointment.

Or maybe it’s the fact at least two reports surfaced Tuesday and prompted Celtics fans to accept the likelihood that Mazzulla will be back in Boston for a second campaign.

… Well, at least it seems that way for now.

Stranger things have happened, however. And until the Celtics come out and confirm Mazzulla will be back there remains the possibility owner Wyc Grousbeck and company pull the plug and bring in the organization’s fourth coach in four seasons (Brad Stevens, Ime Udoka, Mazzulla). There are a few very capable veterans available for the Celtics, after all. And Boston is in the midst of its win-now window. Any of those on the open market surely would welcome the chance to lead a team with All-NBA talents Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. on Wednesday released hypothetical odds for Boston’s next head coach and the list unsurprisingly included a few recognizable names. Disclaimer: The betting odds are not available at any sportsbook, but nevertheless add to the conversation.

Mazzulla remains the favorite to return to Boston’s bench followed by Doc Rivers, 2022 Coach of the Year Monty Williams, Frank Vogel and two-time Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer. Rivers, Williams and Budenholzer were fired by the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks, respectively, earlier this month.

Here’s how listed the prices and probabilities:

Joe Mazzulla +250, 28.6% probability to return
Doc Rivers +350, 22.2%
Monty Williams +450, 18.2%
Frank Vogel +550, 15.4%
Mike Budenholzer +600, 14.3%
Charles Lee +1000, 9.1%
The Field +700, 11.8%

Of those listed and available, it feels like Williams is the best option for the Celtics followed by Budenholzer.

Williams is viewed as the top candidate with the Detroit Pistons reportedly preparing to make him a massive offer. There also have been reports Williams could take a season off from coaching, though it’s fair to assume the Celtics position would be incredibly enticing to anyone.

As it relates to Budenholzer, who was fired after Milwaukee’s first-round exit, the Sixers reportedly were interested in the 2019 Coach of the Year before hiring another recent Coach of the Year winner in Nick Nurse. Doing so alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, Budenholzer led the Bucks to an NBA championship and the most wins in the NBA last season.

Now we’ll have to wait and see if any of those options interest the Celtics, or if they’re willing to run it back with Mazzulla manning the bench.

Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images

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