Boston Celtics’ President Danny Ainge obviously has a much different definition of ‘no rush’ than I do. Just two days after Ainge said he was in “no rush” to fill the head coaching position of the storied franchise he went out grabbed Butler University Head Coach Brad Stevens. That’s certainly more of a ‘rush’ than first thought.
If you’re a fan of the Celtics, you’ll need to be patient. This is going to be a process of perhaps four to five years before the team is a championship contender again and that could be generous. In my opinion, the hiring of Stevens is an obvious move signaling a complete and total rebuilding job in Beantown.
Stevens is just 36-years old which makes him the youngest coach in the league. Why not have a young coach if you’re going to have young players right? With Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry off to Brooklyn, the Celtics are left with very little to build around. The top dog will no doubt be Rajon Rondo who at 27 years of age suddenly becomes the old man of the team. Rondo is coming off ACL surgery however and whether he can return to his dominant form is unknown but we have no reason to think he cannot.
Around Rondo will be Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger. Green averaged just under 13 points per game and I would have to believe that number will increase with more touches and more need for his offense. Sullinger averaged just six points and six boards last year but like Green, his activity will have to increase as well.
In the recent NBA Draft, the Celtics selected Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk who will more than likely be forced into action sooner than Ainge probably would preferred. The seven-foot Canadian should have opportunities to use his skills a lot sooner than other draft picks simply because of the lack of talent in Boston. I like the pairing of Stevens and Olynyk because Stevens has worked with similar players in college and they’ve seen some decent success.
My biggest concern going forward for the Celtics besides the obvious lack of talent is what ultimately is the end game for Stevens? I ask this because the Celtics will have a boatload of draft picks over the next five years. Nine to be exact with two each in the first round of the next three drafts.
Stevens reportedly has signed a six-year deal which means Ainge and the Celtics’ front office believe Stevens is the guy to steer the rebuilding effort in the right direction from the court. I see it as a little more calculated than though because it’s ultimately win-win for Ainge. If Stevens makes this team competitive immediately, unlikely but stranger things have happened, then it’s good for Ainge.
If Stevens has the team on the upswing with some new talent over the next three years then again it’s a win for Ainge. The bad news for Stevens is that if the talent is provided for him but he cannot coach them up then he is likely out and Ainge and goes out and gets a big name guy to mold the talent into a perennial playoff team.
With that said, Stevens first and most important task is building a relationship with Rondo who has said himself he can be difficult to coach. Both guys are similar in how they approach the game so it could work. If it doesn’t, the rebuilding job takes a step backwards.
Boston will be an intriguing team in terms of wagering because there is so much unknown with them right now and especially with how Stevens’ coaching translates to the pro game. Be patient with the Celts because the opportunity for them to become a contender again is there and Ainge has proven he can find the pieces necessary.