Friday, June 21, 2024

Report: Celtics senior consultant Jeff Van Gundy to become lead assistant coach with Clippers

After winning his first NBA title this week, Celtics senior consultant Jeff Van Gundy is reportedly heading to Los Angeles to become lead assistant coach of the Clippers -- according ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The former head coach of the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets has agreed upon a deal to join Ty Lue's staff out in L.A. after spending this past season in Boston, before being laid off last summer by ESPN -- where he worked as an NBA analyst and color commentator for 16 years.

Speaking on a recent episode of the "Mark Jacskon Show," with former TV broadcast partner Mark Jackson and son Mark Jackson Jr., Van Gundy revealed for the first time what led to being hired by C's president of basketball operations Brad Stevens following his abrupt exit from ESPN.
"I got fired from ESPN on June 30, and then my youngest son went to school in August so we became empty-nesters," Van Gundy said. "Then my sister-in-law tragically passed away in the middle of August as well. Then, my best friend in Houston contracted cancer, and he died this spring.
"When I went to work for the Celtics after the FIBA World Cup last fall, I only knew Brad Stevens a little bit. I was really in an awkward place in life, not really knowing where I was going or what my purpose was, or how I'd be with this new group of people where I didn't know anyone. It's been one of the most rejuvenating things I've ever gone through. Brad Stevens and Joe Mazzulla threw me a lifeline."
Known for his great basketball mind, Van Gundy was convinced by Stevens and Joe Mazzulla to make an NBA return for the first time since 2007 where he last coached in Houston. He totaled a 430-318 record in 11 seasons between the Knicks and Rockets, while going 44-44 in the postseason -- which included a trip to the NBA Finals in 1999.
"Everybody on that coaching staff has welcomed me with open arms," Van Gundy said. "It's a very young coaching staff. There is no one else other than Sam who is over 40 years old. I've learned so much. I've been embraced and welcomed in. The whole organization from ownership to Brad’s staff to the coaching staff has just been remarkable. I think you can never have better team chemistry than you have coaching staff chemistry. Joe is such a good coach and a good leader but what he's done so very well is assemble a group of coaches that care about the results more than the credit. They have great chemistry together.

"I admire how he coaches his team and coaches his coaching staff and allows them a voice and a runway to express what they feel. Everyone falls into line into what Joe decides is best for the group. After the summer, I was not in a great place. I'll always and forever be appreciative of what Brad Stevens, Joe Mazzulla and the coaching staff has done for me."
Van Gundy was rumored to join Mazzulla's coaching staff as lead assistant after the departure of Charles Lee to the Charlotte Hornets, before news broke of the Clippers swooping in to steal him away.

Stevens praised Van Gundy and his impact on the Celtics roster this past season back in April, just prior to the team's championship run.
"Jeff's been great," Stevens told reporters. "And it's all the way through that coaching staff. They've been terrific. Jeff, in his consultant role, our six player enhancement coaches have been amazing with our 'stay ready' group."
With Van Gundy and Lee leaving, it would appear that Sam Cassell could be the leading candidate for a promotion to head assistant on Mazzulla's coaching staff as the Celtics look to repeat next season as champions.  

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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