Report: Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann could be ‘Sleeper’ candidate for Boston Celtics job https://t.co/I5SZZ1UI7n— Saturday Tradition (@Tradition) June 3, 2021
Earlier this week, the Boston Celtics were bounced from the NBA Playoffs in the first round in five games by the Brooklyn Nets. Unsurprisingly, Celtics fans didn’t take the loss too well, chucking a water bottle at Kyrie Iriving, and pretending their cartoon logo was an actual person who got disrespected.
The following day after being ousted from the playoffs, Boston president Danny Ainge retired. To fill Ainge’s spot, head coach Brad Stevens took over as the new president, which now leaves a hole at head coach for Boston. Maybe the Celtics can give Rick Pitino another shot as head coach. It’s not like a second stint in Boston for Pitino can go any worse than the first one.
While mentioning Pitino for the Boston job was obviously a joke, one name being floated to become the new head coach of the Celtics that isn’t funny to Ohio State fans is current Buckeye head coach Chris Holtmann. It’s hard to see Holtmann moving on to the NBA, but it’s not stranger things haven’t happened with coaching moves before.
Obviously I would hate the move because I can’t stand anything Boston. I’m not really sweating Holtmann jumping to the Celtics though, because it doesn’t really seem like a move that Holtmann would make right now. Even if he was thinking of possibly jumping to the NBA, all he would have to do is look at some of the recent college basketball coaches that have jumped to the professional level.
Brad Stevens has been the most successful college basketball coach to jump to the NBA over the last few decades. In eight seasons with the Celtics, Stevens posted a 354-282 record, and made the Eastern Conference Finals three times. The problem that Stevens had is he wasn’t able to lead any of his teams to the NBA Finals. Even though Stevens’ record was very respectable, going so long without a finals appearance just isn’t going to fly in Boston.
Another college basketball coach that found some success in the NBA has been Billy Donovan. The Florida head coach won two titles in Gainesville, went to two other Final Fours, and three Elite Eights before making the move to Oklahoma City. During his time with the Thunder, Donovan went to the playoffs in all five of his seasons as head coach before moving to Chicago following last season. In his NBA career, Donovan is 274-198.
If Chris Holtmann wants to see why he shouldn’t jump to the NBA, all he has to do is look north at a guy who used to coach the maize and blue. John Beilein took Michigan to the NCAA title game twice before he was lured to the pros to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers. At the time the move seemed like it would be a good one since the Cavs were rebuilding. Beilein’s time in Cleveland was embarrassing, posting a 14-40 record before he resigned.
It’s not just Beilein though who struggled to find success in the NBA. Look at some of the premier college basketball coaches that have been humbled at the professional level. Pitino and John Calipari both have under .500 records as NBA head coaches. Both Tim Floyd and Fred Hoiberg left Iowa State and couldn’t hack it with the Chicago Bulls. Leonard Hamilton didn’t last long in the NBA, and neither did Lon Kruger.
Holtmann may be a “sleeper” candidate for the Celtics job, but there is one Big Ten coach that should be high on Boston’s list. Juwan Howard might be able to buck the trend of college coaches failing in the NBA. What makes Howard so different? It helps that he spent so much time in the NBA as a player and an assistant coach. A pairing of Stevens in the front office and Howard as head coach could make Boston a true threat in the Eastern Conference.
I’m not saying that Chris Holtmann couldn’t hack it as an NBA head coach, he just needs to find the right situation. I don’t think Boston would be the right fit for the Buckeye head coach. With the media pressure and the unrealistic expectations from the fan base, you’d likely see a change be made sooner rather than later. Then again, Stevens last eight years as head coach of the Celtics, so I could be wrong about that.
This isn’t going to be the last time Holtmann’s name pops up as a head coaching candidate, so we need to enjoy his time in Columbus for as long as it lasts. The Buckeyes found the perfect hire after Thad Matta and the school decided to part ways. Even though we were all wanting more after this year’s first round exit in the NCAA Tournament, there’s no doubt Holtmann has the Ohio State program headed in the right direction.