Rewind five months and the Boston Celtics looked like a team in crisis.
Sure, they’d just made the NBA Finals. But All-Star forward Jaylen Brown was clearly upset after being linked to Kevin Durant trade talks and head coach Ime Udoka was suspended for the season amid a sexual harassment investigation.
It would have been easy for Boston’s season to quickly devolve from there.
But in stepped interim coach Joe Mazzulla and train kept rolling. As we enter the NBA All-Star break, Boston boasts the league’s best record at 42-17. Brown and Jayson Tatum both look like superstars and the Celtics have a one-game lead on the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference.
And yet Boston was still hesitant to commit to Mazzulla long term. That is, until Thursday morning.
Joe Mazzulla is officially the 19th Head Coach in franchise history 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 pic.twitter.com/LMcTLS1u0m
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 16, 2023
The Celtics put out a press release on Thursday announcing they’d removed Mazzulla’s interim tag, officially making him the 19th head coach in franchise history. The move also came with news of a contract extension. Though details of the extension were not revealed.
The Celtics say Joe Mazzulla has been named their full-time head coach and has negotiated a contract extension with the Eastern Conference leaders.
More NBA from me: https://t.co/LGN9cVpMwn pic.twitter.com/ZmRNQCcinM
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 16, 2023
“The Boston Celtics have named Joe Mazzulla the 19th head coach in franchise history and have agreed upon a contract extension with him, the team announced today. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Mazzulla replaces Ime Udoka,” the release read.
The announcement clears up any murkiness that could surround the Celtics entering the stretch run. It also allows Boston to focus its energy on returning to the NBA Finals and trying to one-up its performance from a year ago.
DraftKings Sportsbook currently lists the Celts as the favorites to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy at +310. They’re followed closely behind by the Phoenix Suns at +425.
Phoenix, of course, made headlines when it acquired Kevin Durant from Brooklyn Nets prior to the NBA Trade Deadline just a week ago.