Boston Celtics

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 19: Head coach Ime Udoka and Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics high five during the first quarter against the Miami Heat in Game Two of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals at FTX Arena on May 19, 2022 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Ex-Celtics coach Ime Udoka is apparently getting the gang back together for his new chapter with the Rockets.

Introduced as the Rockets’ new head coach back in April following his suspension and eventual dismissal from his post in Boston, Udoka’s staff in Houston will come with at least three subtractions from Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla’s support staff with the Celtics, according to a report from the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn.

  • “What will be a must if Mazzulla is retained is a more experienced coaching staff,” Washburn wrote. “According to an NBA source, assistants Ben Sullivan, Aaron Miles, and Mike Moser are expected to join Ime Udoka’s staff in Houston, leaving three or more openings on Mazzulla’s staff.”

    That will make it a five-assistant exodus for the Celtics since the conclusion of the 2022 NBA Playoffs, with Celtics assistant Will Hardy departing for a head coaching job with the Jazz last summer while top assistant Damon Stoudamire left the club for a head coaching gig with Georgia Tech during the 2022-23 season.

  • Dec 7, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Boston Celtics assistant coach Ben Sullivan against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Dec 7, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Boston Celtics assistant coach Ben Sullivan against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Of that group of three new departures from the Celtics, the loss of Sullivan certainly feels notable.

    Hired in 2021 after winning a championship as an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks, Sullivan seemed to by all means be Boston’s top assistant under Mazzulla and following the departure of Stoudamire.

    It was also noted how Sullivan worked with Celtics guard Derrick White extensively during the offseason and before each game to work on his shooting. And with White having a career year from deep (38.1 percent) and in a season that included a Second-Team All-Defense nod, that’s quite a loss.

    Sullivan seemed to be quite a find for the Celtics given his resume, which included that aforementioned run with the Bucks, as well as a four-year run as an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks from 2014 to 2018, and a start that saw Sullivan serve as an assistant video coordinator with the San Antonio Spurs while also working in the franchise’s development department.

    Miles, meanwhile, had spent the previous two seasons as a C’s assistant. Prior to that, Miles spent two seasons as a player development coach with the Golden State Warriors, which came after serving as the head coach of the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors from 2017 to 2019.

    The 32-year-old Moser, hired by the Celtics last summer, had just wrapped up his first season as the team’s assistant coach and part of their ‘player-enhancement’ staff.  In his case, it’s certainly worth noting that Moser was hired by the Celtics prior to Udoka’s suspension.

  • Nov 30, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla talks with forward Jayson Tatum (0) and center Al Horford (42) from the sideline as they take on the Miami Heat at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 30, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla talks with forward Jayson Tatum (0) and center Al Horford (42) from the sideline as they take on the Heat at TD Garden. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 17: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics speaks with head coach Joe Mazzulla during game one of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat at TD Garden on May 17, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics speaks with head coach Joe Mazzulla during Game 1 of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat. (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

  • If there’s a positive to be found within the departures, it’s that it will allow Mazzulla (and with some obvious help from Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens) to build out a complete staff after what was an undeniable on-the-fly type of year following Udoka’s suspension.

    “I mean, I might have said this in September like I couldn’t have done that, right? Like I always needed, like, a whole summer of planning and a whole summer of thinking and organizing thoughts and being able to get yourself ready to emphasize what you want to emphasize on a daily basis,” Stevens said of the challenges Mazzulla and his staff faced this past season. “And so there’s no question that’ll be a huge benefit [to have a full summer to build out a program and staff]. To do what they did in five days and to get ready for the season and to start the season the way we did, I think was a little bit more remarkable than people outside the building would have thought. I certainly was leaning on the leadership of them at that time because that was not an easy thing.”

    One thing that Stevens and the Celtics will clearly prioritize when it comes to the replacements for the Celtics-turned-Rockets staffers? Experience on an NBA bench.

    “We’re going to look for, with at least one addition to the bench — and [Mazzulla will] lead this charge — somebody that’s got a lot of NBA experience for sure,” Stevens admitted Thursday.

  • MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 25: Head Coach Ime Udoka of the Boston Celtics talks with Jaylen Brown #7 against the Miami Heat during the fourth quarter in Game Five of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals at FTX Arena on May 25, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

    MIAMI, FLORIDA – MAY 25: Ime Udoka of the Celtics talks with Jaylen Brown #7 against the Heat during the fourth quarter in Game 5 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals at FTX Arena. (Eric Espada/Getty Images)

  • Now, the hope for the C’s is that Udoka’s poaching of Boston talent for his new chapter in Houston begins and ends with the coaching staff.

    The future of Jaylen Brown remains the top talking point entering an offseason that could see the Celtics offer him a supermax contract worth almost $300 million. If Brown turns that down, or if the Celtics do not offer that contract given its long-term implications on the roster flexibility of the franchise, talk of a potential reunion with Udoka in Houston will only and naturally intensify. Especially with the Rockets having the space to and obvious openings to make Brown ‘The Guy’ for their team.

    Brown has also name-dropped Udoka on a few occasions since his departure, and was quoted as saying it ‘sucks’ that Udoka was no longer with the club as their head coach.

    Speaking with reporters Thursday, Stevens acknowledged that he couldn’t talk specifics when it came to Brown’s future with the Celtics, but seemed more than willing to do what it’ll take to keep him in Boston.

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