The Boston Celtics have drastically changed their team. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were traded to the Brooklyn Nets and the team now looks to be in the hands of point guard Rajon Rondo and forward Jeff Green. And the changes didn’t just happen with the players. Doc Rivers also left the team, going to the Clippers for a 2015 1st round pick. The scene is set for the Boston Celtics to start rebuilding. The level of expectation seemed to drop with those three exits and with Ray Allen leaving the year before, some thought he may have saw this coming. With the amount of change going on in Boston, it was definitely a hard question to answer as to who would coach this team. Would they go after a veteran NBA coach or would they turn to a young NBA assistant to lead them back? Well, the Celtics went a totally different direction and hired Butler University head coach Brad Stevens. The 36 year old former collegiate head coach is now the head coach of one of the NBA’s most storied franchises.
Stevens’ hire was a total shock to a lot ofpeople and many are wondering what he is doing getting this job. No one thought he was even in the market. But now that he has the job, he definitely has to prove that he was right fit to begin with. Being that he is such a young coach with no professional experience, he first has to earn the respect of his team. One of the good things about the Celtics team is he does have some young guys that are not far removed from college. Guys like power forward Jared Sullinger, guard Marshon Brooks and rookie Kelly Olynyk will probably more quickly accept his coaching style and his vision. But the tougher part will be trying to sell his vision to point guard Rajon Rondo. The undoubted leader of this team has been known to be a little headstrong at times. Rondo and Doc were very successful together but they did have their times of disagreement like any other coach and player do. If he is able to get on the same page as Rondo, then the transition to him being coach will go over very smooth. If not, there could be some bumps along the road.
Another thing that Stevens must learn is how to lose. At Butler, he was allergic to losing. He went 166-49 in six seasons at Butler, so he is very accustom to success. In the NBA, that kind of success may not come. The Celtics’ big changes have many thinking that this team will not be very competitive next year. While I don’t believe they will be completely awful, they will not be a championship-worthy team. And with that, the losing will come. With Stevens not being used to that happening, it could be interesting to see how he handles it. If he is to be successful, he must stay positive and not allow the losing to eat away at him like it did former Celtics coach Rick Pitino when he was in Boston. Pitino built a machine at the University of Kentucky. The team was highly successful during his tenure there, but after a national championship appearance in 1997, Pitino left for the NBA and the Boston Celtics. The results were not what he expected as the team went 102-146 in his time there. His frustrations with losing and the expectations in Boston seemed to bubble over towards the end and he eventually ended up going back to college. Stevens seems like a level-headed, smart guy but losing can turn even the smartest and calmest people into someone else. If he is able to handle the expected lean years and the expectations set forth in Boston, then he will be able to survive. If not, then he could be having a short stay in Massachusetts.
Time will also be a key thing in Boston for Stevens. In the NBA, plenty of franchises want immediate success. And if the success doesn’t come as soon as the organization wants it, then the coach takes the blame and loses his job. Well with Stevens, it is assumed that he will have some time to get things back up to par with what Boston fans have come to expect. He was given a six year deal and that usually means that the organization is invested in allowing a coach to see the process through. Danny Ainge was patient with Doc Rivers and that patience was repaid with a championship and a return to the winning culture in Boston. Hopefully in this instance, Ainge will give Stevens the same amount of time to get things going as he did Doc. If not, the pressure cooker could eat Stevens up.
Boston has turned the page and Stevens is the new voice and leader of the team. Hopefully this unexpected jump to the NBA will turn out well for Stevens, provided he is allowed to succeed and handles the new position the way he has handled all the other tests put in front of him. It will be interesting to see how things shake out for him in Boston.