Will All This Tanking Cause Brad Stevens To Dump The Celtics?


Quick: raise your hands if you enjoy watching the Boston Celtics lose game after game after game?

If you raised your hand – get outta here.  You’re probably a Los Angeles Lakers fan, or some fan of another, winning team who just enjoys torturing innocent victims.

None of us who call ourselves Celtics fans enjoy watching this team lose, obviously.  Still, as fans we understand that teams rise and fall (unless you are the San Antonio Spurs, in which case your ownership has sold its soul to the devil in order to ensure an almost unparalleled  stretch of success).

We may hate seeing the Cs lose, but we’ve been through this before . . . and let’s face it: we’re arrogant enough to think that championship banner 18 is a foregone conclusion, something we WILL see raised to the rafters of TD Garden in our lifetime.

But try to imagine what Celtics head coach Brad Stevens must be feeling, and thinking, in this, his second year with the abysmal Cs.

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Stevens went from being someone you had never even heard about to being one of college basketball’s rising stars after leading Butler University to back-to-back national championship games.  Had he remained in college basketball, there is little doubt that he would have the inside track on some of the nation’s most sought-after coaching jobs within a few short years.  For example, there’s already talk that a slew of Indiana alumni would like nothing more than to see Stevens return to the Hoosier state to help build IU’s program back up – and this is despite the fact that Stevens still has four years left on his contract with the Celtics.

Just imagine how many athletic directors would be on the phone with Stevens if he was still at Butler.

Clearly, Brad Stevens is not in Butler any more, just like Dorothy wasn’t in Kansas.  Instead, Stevens has been hired to restore the Boston Celtics, to make this franchise relevant again – did you read about Boston’s lone remaining nationally-televised game was dropped from ESPN? – despite the fact that Boston’s front office has managed to ship every last member of the 2008 NBA Finals champions out of town.  From what I read and hear, Stevens is 100% committed to the mission, impossible that Danny Ainge has handed him – but I can’t help but wonder, for how long?

It is one thing to ask a coach to spend his first few years in the NBA compiling a less-than-impressive losing record – it’s part of the process.  But to yank pretty much every good player off of the roster is a little like pulling the rug out from under someone after you have invited him into your house.  Jordan Crawford was one of the lone bright spots for the Celtics last season . . . so Danny Ainge traded him.  Rajon Rondo was the lone All-Star on the roster, probably the only reason free agents would consider choosing Boston over Los Angeles or New York . . . but Danny Ainge traded him.

Just like he’ll almost certainly trade Jeff Green before the season’s end.

By the time the summer of 2015 rolls around, Boston will be lucky to lure ANY free agents to come play in Beantown, leaving Brad Stevens with a team that is still a good 2-3 years away from being an actual threat to advance in the playoffs.   A coach is supposed to find a way to develop talent and win games, but when your roster is made up of rookies and players who would be lucky to see 10 minutes of game time a night with a playoff team, all you have is a recipe for frustration and a coach who can’t help but wonder what the hell he is doing with his career.

I like Brad Stevens, and it truly seems like he feels that he is the reason this Celtics team is losing some of these close games.  That’s admirable – just not realistic.  He has not been handed a team that is designed to win, and rather than add pieces, the Celtics’ front office have subtracted, committing this team to a lengthy rebuild.   We can only hope that Stevens is both patient and resilient enough to see this as the biggest challenge of his coaching career, a challenge that he is determined to stick with until he emerges victorious.

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