Tis the season for speculation. In the Grantland preview for the Celtics, Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose speculate that Brad Stevens will get tired of losing basketball games and bolt to the greener pastures of the college game in the offseason. This is another one of those hot sports takes that attracts eyeballs and raises the pulse of bloggers like me (so mission accomplished).
But for the sake of blogging, I figure I'll do my best to discuss this possibility from a few different angles and offer my conflicting opinion. Clearly my guess is just as useless as Bill's. We don't know what's in Brad's heart and nobody (including Brad) can know what the future holds. But, you know, blogging!
So, let's break this down into a pro/con.
Why might Brad Stevens leave?
Likely to pursue a high profile job with a big name school that will give him a long term contract and a chance at becoming a college coaching legend. The ESPN guys mention Duke, Carolina, and Indiana. Those are some pretty good gigs if you can get 'em.
Stevens also might, as Simmons suggests, get sick of the rebuilding process in Boston. As a fiery competitor, you know he gets tired of watching all his hard work result in loss after loss in the record books.
The only other reasons I can think of for someone to leave a long term NBA contract on the table would be conflicts with people (I suppose this is where I'm supposed to mention Rondo's name) or personal reasons (wanting to get back to Indiana?).
Why would Brad Stevens want to stay?
For one thing, he's already got a long term contract in Boston. That's financial security in a "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" profession that is the envy of many a coaching hopeful around the league.
For another thing, the Celtics have the right kind of support structure in place. Ownership is committed to winning and paying what it takes when it makes sense. They've got nice TV deals in place, a big market, and a passionate fan base. Danny Ainge has the full support of ownership and has already built a championship once. Plus he's got the assets to potentially build another one if the opportunities arise. Rondo is here (for now) and there's a lot of young talent on this roster. Plus, not to sound too prideful, but this is the Celtics. One of the most storied franchises in all of sports.
Brad seems to get this.
"The biggest thing for me is you're in an organization that has this tradition and history, unlike any other," Stevens said. "And you're also, last year especially, in a situation that was very fluid and was almost like starting from the ground floor in many ways. It's pretty exciting to be a part of that, to think about how we can best set the table to make sure that our players are developing as well as they can, and that we're playing as well as we can every night."
Sure, the losses are hard to take as you go through them. But a little bit of patience could pay off bigtime for Stevens. Not just with the paycheck (he could get a sweet deal from any number of colleges) but with the prestige of winning. If you win and win big in Boston, and you'll go down as a legend. Just ask Doc Rivers.
I really think that Brad Stevens is just getting started here with the Celtics. He's now had a year to get used to the NBA game and you get a sense that he's getting more comfortable with his footing. He wasn't exactly sure how to handle the minute distribution last year, for fear of upsetting veterans. This year he's making tough decisions and making them with authority and I think the players can see and respect that. He's making changes to the way the team plays defense and emphasizing three point shooting. He's putting his stamp on this team and I think they'll be better than people expect because of it.
So yeah, I'm biased and I clearly have a rooting interest. Anything can happen and nobody knows what Stevens will ultimately do next offseason. I just don't see him leaving this gig under any reasonable circumstances and I'm pretty happy about that.