Just as we never know what to expect from Dwight Howard, the same could be said for Danny Ainge. The Celtics GM has been known for making shocking moves and this one simply added to his reputation.
Ainge has reportedly signed Butler Coach Brad Stevens to step into the shoes previously worn by Doc Rivers and become the next Head Coach of the Boston Celtics. Ainge had been quotes by many to say that he was not in a rush to hire a coach and felt that wasn't a priority at the moment. Makes you wonder doesn't it? Either way give Danny Ainge and his out-of-the-box thinking some credit for this hire. Ainge managed to do what many other prestigious college basketball programs could not seem to do; pry away Brad Stevens from his beloved Butler team. Here's why this hire makes sense for both parties.
For Brad Stevens.
Besides the obvious NBA-coaching opportuntity and the better salary, there are a few key reasons why this move made perfect sense for Brad Stevens. Stevens was THE face of Butler Basketball, and after leading them to two straight national championships, he became one of the most coveted young coaches in the sport. Yet Stevens refused to leave, even after receiving plenty of job offers from top-tier programs such as UCLA. Despite the many enticing offers, Stevens' loyalty remained with Butler where he felt he had the best chance to succeed.
So why bolt now? My guess is Brad Stevens didn't want to be that guy. That guy that makes a small school great and then leaves at the first opportunity, a la John Calipari or Andy Enfield. That guy that isn't really a deadbeat one-and-done coach but certainly looks like one and may be remembered as one. No one, outside of Indiana perhaps, would have blamed Stevens for leaving but he didn't want that to be part of his legacy. Instead, he wanted to stay at Butler as long as possible and build a program up to national prominence. He did that and much more. Consequently, this gave him a legacy and a reputation as beloved as Hinkle Fieldhouse itself.
Stevens' patience and loyalty paid off as he finally received an offer that was too good to pass on. This move made perfect sense. Absolutely no one can blame him for taking an opportunity to not only coach in the NBA but an opportunity to coach the Boston Celtics. He didn't leave for another college team, he gave Butler more than a few years of success while making them a big name, and he took the best opportunity he could have ever had by taking this job.
Coaching college basketball is not coaching in the NBA by any standards, but do the Celtics even need success right away? With a reported six-year contract in the works, Stevens has no immediate pressure to succeed, no expectations for a team that is rebuilding and most importantly for him, he leaves no tarnished legacy behind at Butler where the fans can be nothing but grateful for all he did with the program. Worst case scenario, this doesn't work out, he goes back to college, and is still wanted by countless college programs. It's a win-win for Brad Stevens.
For the Celtics
The Celtics are in rebuilding mode, that is certainly clear. So why would they want to go and hire a big-name coach and overpay him to be at the bottom of the standings? They wouldn't. Danny Ainge knew that once the Pierce and Garnett trade followed Doc's departure, all big name coaches were thrown out the door. Shaw, Karl, Hollins were not options anymore. Instead, the focus shifted to assistant coaches with some coaching experience. Apparently, Danny Ainge didn't think that was appropriate enough, so he went out and hired a college coach. Of course he did. But wait, this actually kind of makes sense.
Call it rebuilding, call it tanking, call it whatever you want, there's no question that the Celtics will not be contending the next one, two, maybe three years. So why NOT go out and get a college coach with a great basketball mind that you wouldn't have to overpay? Stevens is a man that understands the game of basketball and has the patience and poise to deal with a rebuilding team, which in return puts no pressure on him to succeed right away.
With Rondo, provided he's not dealt, Green, Bradley, Lee, and recent draft picks Sullinger, and Olynik, this team is overflowing with youth. Brad Stevens is young and as a college coach, he can deal with youth. His style and exceptional basketball IQ can potentially get this team to succeed in future years. Being a player's coach who can earn the players' admiration and respect, he could maybe even attract a free agent or two down the line as well. Really, the only loser in this is college basketball.
As shocking as this hire is, it could be a sneaky, smart move by the Celtics organization moving forward. Only time will tell if this was a success or not, but first impressions are that the tanking, I mean rebuilding, Boston Celtics, are headed in the right direction. Hmmmm, Stevens & Wiggins, I like the sound of that. The names even rhyme together. Coincidence? I think not.