Toucher & Hardy

Toucher & Hardy

The Boston Celtics have strengthened their front office by adding Jeff Van Gundy as a senior basketball consultant, building on their offseason efforts to improve both their roster and coaching staff. Van Gundy, with an impressive coaching background, will have oversight over all aspects of the organization, including the Maine Celtics. His fresh perspective and unbiased opinions are seen as valuable assets by Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla, who was involved in meetings with Van Gundy and praised his addition, highlighting his strong character, extensive experience, and professionalism.

May 22, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; ESPN commentator Jeff Van Gundy during game four of the Western Conference Finals for the 2023 NBA playoffs between the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Lakers at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Van Gundy comments for ESPN during Game 4 of the 2023 Western Conference Finals. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Mazzulla called the hire “awesome.”

“Any time you get to add like high-character, high-level, professional people, I think it’s a no-brainer and so fortunate enough that he’s here, not just for the coaching staff, but for everybody,” Mazzulla told reporters before practice Saturday

According to MassLive.com, Jeff Van Gundy will split his time between Boston and Maine, home to the Celtics’ G League affiliate.

Van Gundy, known for his long coaching stints with the Knicks and Rockets, also has experience working with Team USA. His presence and insights are expected to benefit various areas of the Celtics’ operations, and he has already begun interacting with players during his visits to Boston. The restructuring of ESPN’s top broadcast team created the opportunity for Van Gundy to become available, and the Celtics acted swiftly to bring him on board.

van gundy

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 06: ESPN NBA analyst Mark Jackson (L) and color commentator Jeff Van Gundy stand for the American national anthem before calling a preseason game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Lakers at T-Mobile Arena on October 06, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Timberwolves defeated the Lakers 114-99. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • During this morning’s Toucher & Rich radio program, NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg suggests that the Celtics were interested in having Van Gundy around even before his broadcasting career ended. Van Gundy’s role is emphasized as being more about organization-wide contributions rather than solely assisting the coaching staff.

    “I think I’ve seen him in the building in the past. I think Brad values him as a basketball mind, even before he was in the broadcasting game. I think once ESPN made the decision to change that booth, the Celtics were just interested in having Jeff Van Gundy around. As you guys sort of alluded to, it’s been stressed that he’s not here as just a coaching staff member. He is not here to help oversee Joe or whatever. He’s more organization-wise. They’ve even stressed that he’s going to have a big role with Maine, which is interesting to me. So my guess would be that as Jeff Van Gundy transitions into this new role, he’s more interested in helping to build at every level of the organization. While I know it’s easy to sit here, and Joe is going to be under the microscope, it’s undeniable. But the way it was phrased earlier in the offseason was that it was Joe’s decision to bring in Sam Cassell, to bring in Charles Lee to add to the brain trust on the bench, especially after the way he got depleted last year. Jeff Van Gundy is more of a 10,000-foot view for everyone in this organization. He comes in with a little bit of an unfiltered opinion, a fresh perspective, and maybe he can help everybody at what they do. I thought it was telling that they had him over to chat with Brad yesterday. Isn’t it crazy how the curtain goes up, and all of a sudden, the two of them are just chit chatting on the court a few days after we figure out this is happening? And I just think he’ll be a sounding board and someone who has fresh ideas. Look, he’s seen a lot from every level, so I think it’s about adding as much brain power as possible.”

  • The conversation then shifts to the idea that there are multiple qualified individuals who could potentially be head coach, including Brad Stevens and other new additions. The concern is raised that this could create added pressure on current head coach Joe Mazzulla, who understands the need to succeed and improve after some missteps in the previous season. However, the group also acknowledges that if the team does well, everyone involved will be rewarded, regardless of who is next to Mazzulla. There’s a sense of an “all in” approach, with the Celtics aiming to add expertise at all levels to achieve success. The conversation concludes with a focus on Mazzulla’s need to concentrate on coaching and not let the pressure affect his performance.

    “Nothing can be tougher than last year when you get thrown into it. You have a staff that is not looking at you as Ime, not our friend that we came here to coach with. I think Joe fully understands that he had missteps last year, that he has to be better this year, and that there will be immediate pressure to succeed because of the championship or bust goals that this team has. Yet, regardless of who is next to him, I think what’s going to exist to make it a little more daunting is that you know that Charles Lee is the perfect candidate, someone they liked when they interviewed him. Sure, that’s got to be in your mind; that’s only human. But I think everybody involved also understands that if this thing goes the way it should, based on your talent, everyone’s going to get rewarded. From a seller’s perspective, that’s a little tough to like. You’ve got to know going in that maybe Charles Lee is only here for a year, maybe Sam Cassell will be a head coach somewhere next year. Maybe Jeff Van Gundy finds another opportunity. But right now, it feels like there’s this all-in mantra that maybe some other teams in Boston don’t seem to get. The Celtics really want to add as much at every level to make this happen, and everyone will be rewarded if it does. So I think Joe certainly has to be aware of that pressure, but he can’t let it affect who he is. This is a chance for him to show that he can coach this thing and put his stamp on it. I hope that doesn’t linger in his mind as we jump into this time.”

     

    LISTEN HERE:

Sign me up for the 98.5 The Sports Hub email newsletter!

Get the latest Boston sports news and analysis, plus exclusive on-demand content and special giveaways from Boston's Home for Sports, 98.5 The Sports Hub.

*
*
By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.