Among the decisions Celtics management must this offseason is whether Joe Mazzulla returns as head coach.
A report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania on Tuesday suggests that the Celtics battling back to force a Game 7 vs. Miami built “momentum” for Mazzulla, and that there’s also a financial incentive to keep him.
According to Charania, the extension Mazzulla signed in February, at the same time the “interim” tag got dropped, guarantees him $14 million over the next three years. The Celtics would be on the hook for that even if they fired him.
Appearing on The Greg Hill Show Wednesday morning, Stadium’s Jeff Goodman was asked if the Celtics made a mistake by giving Mazzulla that extension when they did.
“It’s a great question. I think that they made a poor business decision,” Goodman said. “When you look at it, you say to yourself, what mattered this year? The regular season didn’t mean a whole hell of a lot, let’s be honest. All that mattered was how far this team went in the playoffs. If they had been swept by Miami, then I think it would be a little bit different story. They came back. Obviously they were embarrassed in Game 7 here, but they at least made it a series. They fought back. You could say they fought for Joe Mazzulla, but they fought for themselves, let’s be honest. You’re not playing for a coach. You’re playing for yourself, and pride.
“But yeah, I think if they had to do it all over, they might’ve… what do you do right now? If you had let that run out, are you gonna let him go? If you can get Monty Williams or someone like that, yeah, you probably are.”
Goodman went on to say that if the Celtics had waited, they could either decide to keep Mazzulla now or get “whoever you want” from the available pool of candidates given how attractive the Celtics’ job would be compared to other openings.
Chris Curtis asked Goodman if part of the reason Mazzulla had the interim tag dropped and got the extension was to slam the door on any possibility of Ime Udoka returning for players who may have still been holding out hope for that.
“I’m not sure it was done for that reason. I think it was just done because they felt like he had earned it,” Goodman said. “They felt like he had done enough and they had seen enough of him to think that he was the right guy for the job. And at that point, he was. At that point, you look at what they had done in the regular season. Robert Williams was hurt and they played great without him to start the year, and everything was kind of moving along.
“But, again, I just felt like, why? Some of these owners make such poor business decisions for guys who have made so much money in their lives. Who were you bidding against for Joe Mazzulla? Why not let it go until the end of the year? There’s nothing that’s gonna happen between February and the end of the year that Joe Mazzulla – this is his dream job. He’s not leaving for anything else. He grew up in New England.”