The Celtics are beginning a new era ahead of the 2021 NBA offseason. Veteran general manager Danny Ainge has retired and coach Brad Stevens will replace him at the front office.
That, of course, means Boston will need a new coach. The job should be attractive considering the team has high-level young talent, including All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. As such, the team should be able to attract some of the best and brightest coaches available.
One of those options could be Kara Lawson. According to Jared Weiss from The Athletic, Lawson is a “leading candidate” to follow in the Celtics’ search for coaches. The former WNBA star doesn’t have much coaching experience, but she has been involved with the Boston organization and seems to have a good relationship with Brad Stevens.
But how did Lawson get to this point so quickly after her playing career came to an end? And will she have the opportunity to be the first coach of the NBA? We’ll see.
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Who is Kara Lawson?
Lawson has long been involved in professional basketball. He entered the WNBA during the 2003 WNBA Draft after a four-year college career in Tennessee. He played 13 WNBA seasons and averaged 9.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while playing for the Monarchs, Sun and Mystics. She was also once in the All-Star Game and was an Olympic champion during her playing days.
While still playing, Lawson began a broadcast career and became the first woman to work as a broadcast analyst for an NBA game. That happened during a game of Wizards vs. Hornets on January 12, 2007. Two years after her retirement from the WNBA in 2015, she became the principal analyst for the Wizards broadcast and remained in that role before becoming a coach.
Lawson started with the Celtics and served as an assistant during the 2019-20 season. He developed an excellent relationship with the team’s players and, as Weiss wrote, he was “missed so much“after your departure.
And why did Lawson leave the Celtics? She had the opportunity to serve as the coach for the Duke women’s basketball team. Their first season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Blue Devils posted a 3-1 record in the four games they played before opting to cancel the remainder of their season.
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Kara Lawson’s tenure with the Celtics
Lawson was part of the Celtics staff who posted a 43-21 record and reached the Eastern Conference Finals despite playing on “The Bubble.” She didn’t train at The Bubble, as she had already gone to Duke, but her footprint was clearly on that squad.
As mentioned, Lawson was loved by the players and helped many of them improve. In particular, he worked with Marcus Smart to help him improve his shooting skills.
“She became more than just my shooting coach, she became a long time friend and someone I know I can talk to if I ever need advice,” Smart said after Lawson was announced as the next coach. Duke, according to NBC Sports Boston.
During Lawson’s tenure, Smart shot 34.7 percent from beyond the arc, the second-highest mark of his career, while attempting 6.6 running shots from 3-point range per game.
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Beyond his work with Smart, Lawson made a lasting impression on Celtics players with his ability to connect with players.
“Kara is always known for putting a smile on players’ faces,” center Robert Williams said after Lawson joined Duke, according to Justin Leger of NBC Sports Boston. “She stays in your ear, even though she may not be your personal trainer, she always asks me how I’m doing and if there’s anything I need to talk about, so I feel like Duke is going to have a great head coach. We’re going to miss her. We don’t want it to go away, but it’s about bigger and better opportunities. “
Her performance, her familiarity with Boston and her standing with the team’s players are part of the reason former Celtic broadcast analyst Brian Scalabrine thinks Lawson may be the right woman for the job.
“I think they are going to hire Kara Lawson,” Scalabrine said. “I know the organization thinks she’s amazing. I know the players respect her. When she went to Duke to coach the women’s team there, I mean, I’m just putting A + B = C for me. I think they hired Kara. Lawson. …
“She is incredibly good as a coach.” “It’s not one of those things where ‘she’s good for a woman.’ No, he entered practice and commanded practice from the jump. He was giving people advice and people were gaping. She is elite at what she does … I thought it was chief training material in five minutes talking to her. “
.@Escalabrine explains why she thinks Kara Lawson is the best candidate for the Celtics’ new head coach:
“She is elite at what she does … I thought it was chief training material after only five minutes of talking to her.” pic.twitter.com/uOqYb7tnFQ
– Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) June 2, 2021
Brad Stevens is ‘a mentor’ to Kara Lawson
Does Brad Stevens share Scalabrine’s view that Lawson is “elite” and ready to be NBA head coach after just two years of experience? That is what will ultimately matter during the hiring process.
Stevens made the decision to target Lawson as a member of her staff and was able to remove her from the Wizards booth to begin her coaching career. Shortly after coming on board, Stevens spoke highly of her during her first NBA Summer League experience.
“She’s as smart as they come,” Stevens said, according to KnoxNews.com. “So we are excited to have her on board. She is very excited to get going … Thank God she is on our staff. I think she will do a great, great job for us.”
Later that season on International Women’s Day (March 8) in 2020, Stevens was asked her opinion of Lawson. And he continued to speak well of his then assistant.
“I think Kara’s world,” Stevens said. “She is a special coach. You could always see that when she played and you could hear that when she called games, but have the opportunity to experience it every day.” , she is as good as there is. She is very, very good. “
And even though Lawson left the team after the 2020 season, the two still keep in touch.
“He’s still a great mentor to me; I talk to him weekly,” Lawson said at a news conference last summer, according to the Duke Chronicle.
It certainly seems like the two have a good relationship and Stevens thinks highly of Lawson. That should at least put her on the radar as a potential option, especially if the team is looking to bring in someone who is already familiar with the list.
Lawson and current assistant Jay Larranaga would represent the best options if Stevens wants some continuity and chemistry in the head coach role. That can help keep things running smoothly as you make your way to the main office.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.