It has been a whirlwind few months for the Boston Celtics. After several years of coming extremely close to making the NBA Finals, they finally advanced to the championship round this past June.
Although there were improvements made by players in order to get them over the hump, a lot of the credit was given to first-year head coach Ime Udoka. Under Udoka’s tutelage, the Celtics became one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, and that identity helped them outlast many of their playoff foes.
Even though they lost in six games to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, Boston’s future was extremely bright given their rapid ascension in the 2021-22 season. They signed Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari during the offseason in hopes of increasing their NBA odds in the upcoming campaign.
However, the scandal and uncertainty surrounding Udoka amidst the surprising news released about his internal infractions have shaken up the stability the Celtics thought they had at the head coaching position.
The team announced that assistant coach Joe Mazzulla would step in as an interim head coach this season, but it is fair to wonder if the front office is done making moves on their staff.
Considering the turmoil that the Celtics are facing, they might look to someone outside of the organization to help provide steadiness during a chaotic time. Mazzulla is only 34 years old and has never been a head coach in the NBA, which may lead Boston to bring in someone with a lot more experience.
One interesting possibility could be Frank Vogel, who would be an intriguing fit for several reasons.
Frank Vogel has already achieved what this group of Celtics players is hoping to accomplish in the near future. Vogel was the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers team that won the league title in the 2019-20 season.
While the circumstances around the completion of that season were not ideal, the 2019-2020 Lakers were able to focus on the task at hand and reach their ultimate goal. Vogel deserves a lot of credit for that, as the team could’ve easily been distracted or disturbed by spending an extended period of time in the NBA Bubble.
Instead, the roster, which was made up of playoff-tested veterans, banded together under Vogel in order to win a championship in one of the most unique settings in sports history. Even though Vogel had not yet won a title before the 2020 season, he still had the respect of older players who had already possessed decorated resumes in the league.
LeBron James is one of the best players in NBA history but has also been known to cycle through coaches if he is not pleased with the job they are doing. Although Vogel was eventually dismissed from Los Angeles, James had a solid working relationship with the coach in that first season.
These are all signs that the Celtics could look to with confidence if they wanted to consider bringing Vogel in. The chemistry between the cornerstones of the roster is already strong, and Vogel does not have the type of personality that would be larger than the team.
Based on reports, the Celtics are excited to move forward with Mazzulla at the helm because he was already part of the staff. However, adding Vogel into the mix, even as a senior voice or assistant to Mazzulla could still be wise.
One of the other successful coaching jobs Vogel did in his career was leading the evolution of a promising Indiana Pacers team in the middle of the last decade. The construction of that Indiana team was very similar to the type of roster Boston currently has.
Indiana featured two dynamic scorers in Danny Granger and Paul George on the wing, and George was also an exceptional defender in those years. Their presence allowed them to confidently switch pick and rolls, and each player’s athleticism and wingspan gave opponents a lot of trouble.
In addition, center Roy Hibbert was an effective defender in the paint, who deterred penetrating guards from getting all the way to the basket.
The Celtics have All-Stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum on the wings, and that tandem proved to be a force defensively in the playoffs. Vogel’s experience in Indiana might be valuable considering that some of the strategies used back then could be applied to the current Boston roster.
The team is also hoping that center Robert Williams can stay healthy. He is already slated to miss some time early in the regular season this year due to a knee injury, which could keep him away from the court until 2023. Despite going all-in with rehab, Williams has already proven to be one of the premier shot blockers in the NBA.