The Boston Celtics might have added incentive to keep tabs on the Atlanta Hawks' playoff run and offseason.
Hawks interim head coach Nate McMillan is an "under-the-radar contender" to be the Celtics next head coach if he doesn't re-sign with Atlanta, Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer reported Monday.
McMillan is expected to become the Hawks' full-time coach next season after leading a remarkable turnaround in Atlanta, per Fischer, so this feels like a long shot. But it appears Boston is interested in the 56-year-old former NBA player and Indiana Pacers head coach should things fall through with the Hawks.
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New president of basketball operations Brad Stevens and the Celtics have plenty of other irons in the fire: They've already contacted Los Angeles Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, Milwaukee Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee, Brooklyn Nets assistant Ime Udoka and Dallas Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley for their head coach opening, according to Fischer.
Fischer also noted that those five candidates are all "highly regarded young coaches who are said to relate well with players," a quality that "appears to be a preference for Boston" in addition to having NBA playing experience.
Here's more from Fischer on what the Celtics are looking for in their next head coach:
"Team personnel contacted by B/R maintain that hiring a Black candidate is another top priority for the Celtics. If Boston can also land someone who has previous head coaching experience, that person would further meet the Celtics' criteria, sources said."
Those criteria make sense for a Celtics team led by two young stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Stevens himself admitted the players could benefit from a fresh voice after his eight seasons as head coach in Boston, and a young coach with playing experience could be just what the C's need to re-establish a winning culture after a frustrating 2020-21 season.
While McMillan would seem to be the best fit having both played and coached in the NBA, there's a chance he won't be available. But Billups checks a lot of Boston's boxes as well, as do Ham and Udoka, who both played in the league.
The Celtics also have to compete with the Portland Trail Blazers, Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers in their coaching search, so there could be more dominoes to fall before Stevens finds his replacement.