When people talk about coaching, we tend to only think of the head coach. There is a lot of talk about Joe Mazzulla lately and how much blame he may or may not deserve. Conversations often tend towards comparing Joe to Ime. I myself have done this at times. But maybe it's an oversimplification.
The Celtics have lost a lot of coaching talent over the past few years. Not just head coaches. Assistants, too.
First, we have to talk about Brad Stevens. While one can argue his coaching tenure towards the end wasn't great, I do think Brad was a good coach. And he was very strong from an Xs and Os standpoint. Unlike a lot of other coach's, Stevens still has a role with the team as a GM. Honestly, he's done a very good job at it so far. However, he isn't a coach anymore.
Kara Lawson was a highly publicized assistant with the Celtics for a brief time during the 2019-20 season. She was seen working with various Celtics players on development and even worked with Smart on his shot. In 2020, she was hired by Duke to coach the woman's basketball team. I know it's a different league and set of circumstances, but it does actually seem like she has been a good head coach so far. That's why I thought it was worth mentioning.
The coach Brad Stevens chose to replace himself with was Ime Udoka. Ime was probably a perfect fit for what our team needed at the time. His off the court stuff got in the way. I'm not going to say the Celtics were wrong for getting rid of him, though I wish I knew a bit more about it. Whatever the case, it's clear Ime put himself in a poor position at minimum. So I have no sympathy. However, we still need to acknowledge that Udoka got a certain level out of this team we just aren't seeing at the moment.
The offseason where Ime got in trouble also saw the loss of assistant Will Hardy to the Jazz. He is under a lot less pressure there for the time being, but the Jazz were a lot more successful than many people thought to start the season. He seems like a good coach. Hardy was known for his high BBIQ and was a part of Ime's staff as an assistant. When Ainge tried to poach Joe Mazzulla, the Celtics reportedly blocked it. But they let him have Hardy. It's way too soon to call this a second guess at this point, but it should be noted the Celtics chose Joe over Will. Either way, they lost another capable assistant. It was probably unavoidable that the Celtics would lose at least one.
Jay Larranaga is a very underrated loss on the transition from Brad to the next Ime. It should be noted that Udoka hired mostly his own staff. I think I remember reading somewhere that only Mazzulla was left from the prior coaching staff. Jay was a longtime Celtics assistant who was once a potential candidate to replace Doc Rivers. Brad Stevens was hired instead. Jay was also commonly seen coaching summer league teams. He was a highly regarded assistance coach here and declined several college coaching positions. The Clippers were quick to hire him as part of Tyronn Lue's staff in 2021.
So by the time Joe Mazzulla became head coach, we had already lost quite a few members from former staffs. It wasn't just Udoka but Hardy as well. It's not the same full deck that Ime enjoyed last season. Jay Larranaga's loss is also probably felt harder now than before because of the overall coaching talent drain.
Damon Stoudamire is the latest Celtics assistant to get poached. I have no idea how impactful this may or may not be, but it should be noted because the Celtics keep losing capable assistants.
Does anyone on here even know about the remaining current assistant coaches and if they are any good?
I have to admit that I don't particularly know much about the folks who are left. I know some about the Celtics front office. But not the assistant coaches.