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Celtics to Replace Charles Lee With Veteran Head Coach?

Boston Celtics president Brad Stevens

Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla has corroborated a report by NBA insider Marc Stein, who purported that there’s been “curiosity circulating in coaching circles” about the possibility former head coach Jeff Van Gundy joins his staff as a replacement for Charles Lee.

Lee, the top assistant on Mazzulla’s bench, has agreed to become the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets.

Celtics to Replace Charles Lee With Jeff Van Gundy?

Van Gundy, the younger brother of another former NBA head coach in Stan Van Gundy, spent 11 seasons roaming the sidelines of the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets.

In that time, he went 430-318 in the regular season. He had a 44-44 record in the postseason, taking the Knicks to the NBA Finals in 1999. However, after three seasons trying to take the injury-prone duo of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming to the NBA Finals, his coaching career came to an end. It was no short hiatus either, as the California native became a fixture in the broadcast booth. From 2007 to 2023, Van Gundy treated fans with his often exasperated color commentating.

JVG In Boston

Laid off by ESPN last June, Van Gundy’s friendship with Celtics president Jeff Van Gundy may have been what led him to Boston. Indeed, he’s “had a good relationship with Stevens over the years,” per MassLive’s Brian Robb. This is presumably a significant factor in Van Gundy’s decision to join Boston as a senior consultant of basketball operations. Nonetheless, when asked about the he joins the team as an assistant coach, Mazzulla says the Celtics “don’t really know yet” (h/t 98.5 The Sport Hub’s Zolak & Bertrand).

“We always said we are going to hire from within and kind of talk more about that after the season,” he continues.

With that said, Van Gundy already has a vote of confidence from the team’s lead decision-maker. Speaking about Van Gundy prior to the 2024 NBA All-Star Break, Stevens says “he’s loving being here. He’s long being part of the team. And we all love having him around.”

“He’s been a good friend for a long time,” Stevens admits. “He’s got great insights. He thinks like a coach. He’s been in different arenas calling different games for different players and meeting with different coaches for 15 years since he last coached…

“This guy has a wealth of experience, a wealth of knowledge, and yet acts like an entry-level intern…,” adds a gushing Stevens. “He’s kind to everybody. He’s the most humble guy you’ve ever met. I think he just likes being a part of a team again.”

Per Robb, Van Gundy “has split his time between working and traveling with the team in Boston while also consulting with the team’s G-League affiliate. However, as the year continued, Van Gundy has been a steady presence at team practices and on road trips amid Boston’s run to the NBA Finals.”


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