Three Replacements For Joe Mazzulla as Celtics Head Coach

Joe Mazzulla
Joe Mazzulla / Adam Glanzman/GettyImages

The Boston Celtics are going out sad. A team many considered to be title favorites heading into the postseason has gotten embarrassed in three straight games by the Miami Heat and are on the brink of elimination without even putting up a fight. There is plenty of blame to go around but the primary fall guy is Joe Mazzulla. Erik Spoelstra has put on a coaching clinic and run circles around Mazzulla during the Eastern Conference Finals, but more importantly Mazzulla was unable to get his players to show up to the most important games of the season.

It's one thing if everybody played hard but Spoelstra's ability to amplify weaknesses and mitigate strengths of opposing rosters won the day. It's quite another when the Celtics' very decorated group of All-NBA and All-Defense players look entirely uninterested as they fall down by 30 while the season slips away. Last night's Game 3 loss was so bad that it necessitates change unless the Celtics do the impossible and come back from down 3-0. But anybody who watched that game knows there's less than a zero percent chance that happens.

Is it totally fair for Mazzulla to end up in the crosshairs like this? Of course not. He did remarkably well considering the circumstances under which he got this job. But Boston boasted the deepest roster in the league led by two All-Star wings and just... no-showed in the Eastern Conference Finals. That is unacceptable and since it's pretty unlikely the team is going to ditch Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown Mazzulla is the primary candidate to be shown the door and replaced.

For my money it's not a sure thing, but change has to come in some form. If the franchise decides Mazzulla has to go, here are a few options to replace him.

Doc Rivers

It's been a long time since Doc Rivers was considered a championship-level coach. He hasn't made it out of the second round in years and no playoff lead is safe with him on the sideline. But he still connects with his players well and there's obviously a history here with Boston. Could Rivers create Ubuntu 2.0 and get the whole roster to buy into a winning culture after flaming out this season? Maybe all he needs is that Southie air to get back to his old ways. An uninspiring choice but one that must be considered with the connections at play.

Monty Williams

Brad Stevens and Mazzulla are coaches cut from the same cloth in many ways-- smart basketball minds who have a strong grasp of the X's and O's but struggle to motivate the roster to dig deep and reach the next level to play championship basketball. Williams is that sort of coach. He's a connector, a player's coach, whatever terminology you want to use. This means he'll get outschemed every now and again but he helped the hapless Suns reach the NBA Finals. He knows what it takes. Williams is owed a lot of money by Phoenix so there is no guarantee he'll want to jump right back into the head coaching life after his abrupt dismissal. But if he does, Boston will be calling.

Frank Vogel

One of the other common themes with recent Celtics head coaches is a lack of experience. Stevens got hired straight out of college. He picked Ime Udoka off the Nets' bench to replace him. Then Udoka was suspended and Mazzulla was thrust into the spotlight. Vogel is strong in that department if anything. He has a decade's worth of experience as the head honcho and his stints were varying levels of successful outside of two forgettable seasons with the Magic. He has championship experience after winning in the bubble. He also has a history in Boston, where he kicked off his NBA career as the head video coordinator for Rick Pitino. Vogel checks a lot of boxes.