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Brad Stevens confirms Joe Mazzulla will return as Celtics head coach next season

“He’s a terrific leader.”

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers
Joe Mazzulla led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals in his first season as a head coach.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Mazzulla will continue to coach the Celtics next season, Brad Stevens confirmed to reporters Thursday afternoon.

When asked if Mazzulla is the best head coach for the team moving forward, the president of basketball operations Stevens answered directly: “Yeah, I think he is.”

Mazzulla, who turns 35 in late June, took over just days before training camp after the Celtics suspended Ime Udoka for the entire season.

Mazzulla led the Celtics to a 57-25 regular season, the No. 2 seed, and Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. While the season was a disappointment in the eyes of many, Stevens reiterated that Mazzulla has his full support.

“He’s a terrific leader,” Stevens told reporters. “He’ll only get better at anything that he can learn from this year because he’s constantly trying to learn.”

Stevens described Mazzulla as “accountable” and someone who’s “constantly trying to learn.” He said he “did a really good job” after he was “thrust into” the position, and he expects him to benefit from a full offseason.

He added that Mazzulla’s experience can be measured in “dog years,” because he’s been in three Eastern Conference Finals and has been the head coach throughout one of those runs.

“Was he perfect? Would he like to have some moments back? Every coach would,” Stevens told reporters. “ … At the same time, our players, our staff, everybody around him believe in him. We’ve got to do our best to support him moving forward.”

Stevens did note that the Celtics will look to bolster their coaching staff with someone who has substantial NBA experience.

He reiterated that the entire process is a collaborative effort and doesn’t fall on just one person.

“We’ve all got to do the best we can to get the results we want,” Stevens said. “We all share it when it goes our way, and we all share it when it doesn’t go our way.”

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