Who is Kara Lawson? Meet Duke’s coach who would be the ‘candidate of choice’ for Celtics job
The Celtics are starting a new era ahead of the 2021 NBA offseason. Longtime general manager Danny Ainge has retired and coach Brad Stevens is replacing him at the front office.
That, of course, means Boston is going to need a new coach. The job should be attractive considering the squad has some young, high-end 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 of The Athletic, Lawson is a “prime candidate” to watch in the search for Celtics coaching. The former WNBA star doesn’t have a lot of coaching experience, but she has been involved in the Boston organization and appears to have a good relationship with Brad Stevens.
But how did Lawson get to this point so quickly after her playing career ended? And will she have a chance to be the NBA’s first female coach? We will take a look.
Who is Kara Lawson?
Lawson has long been involved in professional basketball. She entered the WNBA in the 2003 WNBA Draft after a four-year college career in Tennessee. She played 13 seasons in the WNBA and averaged 9.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while playing for the Monarchs, Sun and Mystics. She also made the All-Star Game once and was an Olympic champion during her time playing.
While still playing, Lawson began a career in broadcasting and became the first woman to serve as a broadcast analyst for an NBA game. This happened during a Wizards vs Hornets game on January 12, 2007. Two years after her retirement from the WNBA in 2015, she became the senior analyst on the Wizards show and remained in that role before becoming coach.
Lawson made his debut with the Celtics and served as an assistant during the 2019-20 season. She developed a great relationship with the players on the team and as Weiss wrote she was “missed a lot” after he left.
And why did Lawson leave the Celtics? She had the opportunity to coach 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 all four games they played before opting for the remainder of their season to be canceled. .
Kara Lawson’s tenure with the Celtics
Lawson was part of a Celtics team that recorded a 43-21 record and reached the Eastern Conference final despite appearing on “The Bubble”. She didn’t train in The Bubble, as she had already left for Duke, but her mark was clearly on that team.
As mentioned, Lawson was loved by the players and helped many of them improve. She notably worked with Marcus Smart to help him improve his shooting skills.
“She’s become more than my shooting coach, she’s become a longtime friend and someone I can talk to if I ever need advice,” Smart said after Lawson was announced as the next one. Duke trainer, by NBC Sports Boston.
During Lawson’s tenure, Smart shot 34.7% beyond the arc, the second-best score of his career, while attempting a career-high 6.6 shots at 3 points per game.
Beyond his work with Smart, Lawson left a lasting impression on Celtics players with his ability to connect with players.
“Kara is always known for making players smile,” center Robert Williams said after Lawson joined Duke, per Justin Leger of NBC Sports Boston. “She stays in your ear, even though she might not be your personal trainer, she always asks me how I’m doing and if there’s anything I need to talk about then I feel like Duke is going to have a great head coach. We are going to miss her. We don’t want her to go away, but it’s towards bigger and better opportunities. “
Her performance, familiarity with Boston, and well-regarded status among the squad’s players is part of the reason former Celtic-turned-broadcast analyst Brian Scalabrine thinks Lawson might 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 just put myself A + B = C. I think they hire Kara Lawson. …
“She’s incredibly good as a coach,” he added. “It’s not one of those things where ‘she’s good for a woman.’ No, she went into the practice and she commanded the practice right from the jump. She was giving advice to people and people were speechless. . She’s the elite at what she does. … I thought she was coaching material in five minutes talking to her. “
.@Scalabrine explains why he thinks Kara Lawson is the best candidate for the new Celtics head coach:
“She’s an elite at what she does … I thought she was a head coach after just five minutes of talking to her.” pic.twitter.com/uOqYb7tnFQ
– Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) June 2, 2021
Brad Stevens is “a mentor” for Kara Lawson
Does Brad Stevens share Scalabrine’s view that Lawson is “the elite” and ready to be head coach of the NBA after just two years of experience? This is what will ultimately matter during the hiring process.
Stevens made the decision to target Lawson as a member of his squad and was able to lure him out of the Wizards booth to start his coaching career. Shortly after arriving on board, Stevens spoke volumes about her during her first experience in the NBA Summer League.
“She’s as strong as they come,” Stevens said, by KnoxNews.com. “So we are delighted to have him on board. She’s really excited to start. … Thank goodness she is part of our staff. I think she will do a great job for us. “
Later that season, on International Women’s Day (March 8) in 2020, Stevens was asked about his opinion on Lawson. And he kept saying good things about his then assistant.
“I think Kara’s world,” Stevens said. “She’s a special coach. You can always see her when she was playing and you could hear her when she called the games, but to have the chance to experience it everyday, she’s as good as there is. She’s really, really good. “
And even though Lawson left the team after the 2020 season, the two still remain in touch.
“He’s still a great mentor to me – I talk to him every week,” Lawson said at a press conference last summer, according to the Duke Chronicle.
It certainly looks like the two have a good relationship, and Stevens thinks very 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 already knows the roster.
Lawson and current assistant Jay Larranaga would represent the best options if Stevens wants continuity and chemistry as head coach. This can help keep things running smoothly as they transition to the front office.