After coming just one game away from the NBA Finals in his rookie season as head coach, Joe Mazzulla will remain with the Boston Celtics for at least another year.
Mazzulla took over a few weeks before the start of the season after the Celtics suspended Ime Udoka for violating internal rules. Joe Mazzulla led Boston to the second place in the East in the regular season and a game away from a second straight trip to the NBA Finals.
Eventually, the Celtics lost to the Miami Heat in Game 7 (103-84) and got eliminated (4-3), even though they had erased a 3-0 deficit in the series and had the momentum on their side.
“Yeah, I think he is [the best head coach for this team],” Boston president Brad Stevens said of Joe Mazzulla at a press conference on Thursday. “I thought he did a really good job with this group. Everybody’s going to overreact to the best players and coaches after every game. That’s always the way it is. We know that going in, so we have to be able to judge things on the whole.”
“I think when you consider the position he was thrust into and the overall accomplishments of the group, I thought he did a really good job,” Stevens said. “I mean, when you look at it, in the big picture, and having a team that was second in offense, second in defense, won 57 games and has a chance to go to the NBA Finals on your home court, you know, there’s a lot of direction and organization that goes into that. I thought that he did a good job.”
“Joe Mazzulla is a terrific leader, he’ll only get better at anything that he can learn from this year, because he’s constantly trying to learn. And he’s accountable. Those leadership qualities are hard to find. I know they’re easy to talk about, but when you can show all those through the expectations and the microscope that he was under, that’s hard to do… Our players, our staff, everybody around him believe(s) in him, and we’ve got to do our best to support him going forward,” Brad Stevens said.
Moving forward, Joe Mazzulla and the Celtics will have to evaluate what went wrong in the series with the Heat and what changes they could make to the roster, starting with superstar guard Jaylen Brown.
Jaylen Brown is eligible for a new deal this offseason, and by virtue of making the All-NBA second team this season could be offered as much as a five-year contract extension worth as much as $295M.
“It’s extremely important (to re-sign him),” fellow superstar Jayson Tatum said after Game 7 vs the Miami Heat. “He’s one of the best players in this league. He plays both ends of the ball and still is relatively young. And he’s accomplished a lot so far in his career. So, I think it’s extremely important.”
During the regular season, Jaylen Brown averaged career highs in points (26.6), rebounds (6.9) and assists (3.5). After Boston’s elimination, however, the All-Star guard said he would need some time before addressing his future.
“We failed. I failed,” Brown said. “It’s hard to think about anything else right now, to be honest. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
“I don’t even really know how to answer that question right now. My thought process is take it one day at a time, focus on getting better. Focus on what the future holds and see where we are from there.”