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The Celtics have reached the Eastern Conference Finals five times in the last seven years. But last season was the only time they've advanced further, getting within two wins of Banner 18.

Danny Ainge, the franchise's former president of basketball operations, built Boston's foundation that his successor, Brad Stevens, has fortified with the additions of Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon, plus bringing back Al Horford.

After seeing a talented roster that he mostly put together again fail to reach its championship potential, Ainge offered the following to Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe regarding what needs to change for the Celtics to get over the hump.

"I understand something's got to change, but knowing every one of the players like I do, it's hard to identify. They need to do some imaging. You've got to find out what went wrong, and nobody is certain if they're not there every day. If you asked each player and each coach, they would all have a different reason. And it's Brad's job to really find out what needs to be changed."

The CEO of basketball for the Utah Jazz also made it clear he has complete confidence Stevens and a sharp front office that includes his son, Austin Ainge, the organization's director of player personnel, understand what steps to take to help Boston go from contenders to champions.

"The people that are in charge of that know what to do," Ainge said. "I think they can do a real full-blown autopsy of what things need to be different, and it’s not always personnel or coaches or management. It's sometimes different ways to play and breaking some patterns and habits."

That meshes with Stevens expressing at his end-of-season press conference that the Celtics are "small tweaks" from unlocking the best version of this team.

Ainge and the franchise's current president of basketball operations are likely accurate in their belief that patience is Boston's best path forward.


Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have reached the Eastern Conference Finals four times in their first six years together, nearly delivering a title last season. It's worth seeing what they can accomplish in tandem in their primes.

Ainge and Stevens also share confidence in Joe Mazzulla.

"You see Joe's toughness and stubbornness," stated the Celtics' former president of basketball operations. "He's a relentless worker. He has a passion to learn. Joe is a leader, and I think this was a difficult situation with the high expectations the team had coming in. I don't think there's anybody there that doesn't believe that Joe is better than Ime [Udoka] as a coach."

That last line seems unnecessary and like an overstep in lending support for Mazzulla from Ainge, who didn't hire Udoka.

But allowing the Rhode Island native, who at 34, was the NBA's youngest active head coach in 2022-23, to grow from a first season that included facing off against Erik Spoelstra in a seven-game playoff series and avoid hiring a fourth head coach in four years seems in Boston's best interest for multiple reasons.


With Stevens making the anticipated announcement Mazzulla will return for a second season at Thursday's press conference, the focus shifts to strengthening the coaching staff around him.

Regarding the importance of hiring assistants with head coaching experience, Stevens conveyed the following to Inside The Celtics.

"I think that first of all, Joe's experience now, you could probably measure in dog years. Now he's been in three Eastern Conference Finals and a Finals and now the head coach throughout one of those runs. That's an experience in and of itself. I tried to prepare him for what it was gonna feel like after each game, win or lose. And I know how that feels for those guys. And that's one of the reasons why I always talk about how much I respect Jaylen and Jayson because, after every game that doesn't go your way, they're gonna be dissected. And the further you go, the more it is."

The franchise's president of basketball operations continued, "With head coaching experience, he's got a ton of that, but we're gonna look for, with at least one addition to the bench, and he'll lead this charge, we'll look for somebody that's got a lot of NBA experience for sure."

Stephen Silas, the former Rockets' head coach Ime Udoka is replacing, was at the Auerbach Center at times during the playoffs and showed up to TD Garden. So did Phil Pressey. It seems more likely than not that Boston brings both on board.


On the Ticket and Truth podcast on Showtime, Paul Pierce suggested the Celtics add 15-year floor general, long-time assistant coach, and a member of Boston's 2008 title team, Sam Cassell, to Mazzulla's staff.

Adding those three would go a long way toward fortifying a staff that will undergo a significant shake-up this summer, with several former assistant coaches reuniting with Udoka in Houston.

Further Reading

Paul Pierce Suggests Celtics Should Hire Former Teammate as Assistant Coach

Are the Celtics Small Tweaks from a Title? Brad Stevens Thinks So

Brad Stevens Says Celtics View Jaylen Brown as a 'Big Part of Us Moving Forward'

Brad Stevens Discusses Joe Mazzulla's First Year as Celtics' Bench Boss, Strengthening Coaching Staff: 'Joe's Experience Now, You Could Probably Measure In Dog Years'

Celtics' Coaching Staff Reportedly Undergoing Major Shakeup

Celtics' Championship Aspirations Undermined by Identity Crisis

With Partnership at Crossroads, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum Discuss Former's Future with Celtics

Celtics Discuss Trying to Overcome Jayson Tatum's Ankle Injury in Game 7 Loss to Heat: 'A Shell of Myself'

Malcolm Brogdon Explains What Caused Boston Celtics to Miss 2023 NBA Finals

Here's What Stood Out in Game 7 Loss to Heat: Celtics Come Up Small, Enter Offseason of Uncertainty