Thursday, February 16, 2023

Celtics officially name Joe Mazzulla head coach, remove interim tag

After leading the Celtics to the league's best record of 42-17 at the All-Star break, Joe Mazzulla has officially been named the franchise's 19th head coach, according to a team announcement Thursday morning.

The promotion comes just five months after replacing the suspended Ime Udoka and giving him the interim title, but today's move makes Mazzulla the permanent head coach going forward and it also includes a contract extension -- which terms were undisclosed.

Mazzulla at 34-years-old is the youngest coach in the NBA, while leading the Celtics to first place in the Eastern Conference -- earning him and his staff an opportunity to coach Team Giannis at this weekend's NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City.
"I'm definitely going to enjoy it," said Mazzulla following the team's 127-109 win over the Pistons  "I'm excited for what it represent for the players and the staff and the organization and I'm excited to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"There's a time and a place for it and from now until to Sunday night I'm going to do my best to be present and enjoy that with our staff and some of our players," he added.
This marks the end of the Udoka era, which lasted only one season and included a trip to the NBA Finals -- the first since 2010. Mazzulla was the only assistant to Udoka who remained from the Brad Stevens coaching staff regime and now with 23 games remaining in the regular season will look to lead the Celtics to a championship without the interim tag.
"As he has shown, Joe is a very talented coach and leader," said Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens in a team press release. "He has a unique ability to galvanize a room around a mission. We are thankful for the work he has done to help get us to this point, and excited that he has agreed to lead us into the future."
In the meantime, with both All-Stars teams being selected via a live draft hours before the game this Sunday night, Mazzulla may get the chance to coach both Celtics stars Jayson Tatum (starter) and Jaylen Brown (reserve) -- one of them or neither -- depending how the captains (LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo) decide to choose their rosters.

TNT has the tip-off at 8:30 ET.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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