After every painful loss, the following lines get repeated on social media and in the comments section of this site:
- Fire Brad Stevens
- Fire Danny Ainge
- Trade Kemba Walker
- Trade everyone
I get it. Everyone handles frustration in their own way. Some folks have very well reasoned, researched, and nuanced takes. Others are just lashing out. I’m not going to change anyone’s mind or talk anyone off the ledge. All I can do is present my viewpoint and open up the topic for discussion (preferably well thought out and respectfully).
“Fire Brad Stevens”
I’m a card-carrying fanboy of Stevens. I want him to be my life coach. He’s the bees knees...
...but even I have to admit that he’s not above blame here. The players have to run the plays and give the effort, but the coach has to put them in position to win. Part of that is motivation. The players, for whatever reason, are not giving maximum effort lately and I have no idea why but ultimately that falls on the coach.
Obviously a coach also needs to put the right players on the floor together and make the right calls on both sides of the ball. The usual disclaimers apply - COVID, injuries, new faces, no practices, blah, blah, blah. As it happens, every coach in the league has the same excuses to varying degrees. Stevens likes to mix-and-match early in the season and experiment. The problem is that, as Yogi would say, “it gets late early here.”
None of which is to imply that I’m ready to give up on him. I know some will imply that the team has tuned him out and “need a new voice” in the locker room. I don’t think there’s enough of a sample size to make that call and with the roster turnover there’s only a handful of players that have been around long enough to get tired of hearing Stevens (and all of those player are thriving).
Bottom line: he has to share in the blame, but he’s too good of a coach to give up on.
“Fire Danny Ainge”
Again, I’m a fan. He brought us a championship and then built a team up from the ashes to have a core of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. He’s been around forever so if you look long enough you’ll find dozens of strikeouts and dozens of home runs (with a full 9 innings of other baseball terms mixed in).
In general, I think he has made some mistakes recently. I would have very much liked him to be more aggressive with trading the picks in the last 3 years. Of course, that’s easy for me to say without knowing what offers were on the table.
Jeff Teague turned out to be a dud and early returns aren’t great on Tristan Thompson either. And the elephant in the room is that we still don’t know how the Gordon Hayward situation is going to play out. He might have waited a year too long to trade Gordon. There’s still a chance that this TPE provides just the right guy (or guys) to turn this around. But it feels like another move that lets him kick the can down the road because the exact deal he wanted wasn’t there.
Sometimes it feels like he’s searching for the ideal deal and as a result he doesn’t make any deal which leaves an imperfect team dealing with the lack of an ideal mix.
Bottom line: I still want Danny calling the shots, I just want him to take more shots.
“Trade Kemba Walker”
Wrote about this recently but I’m not above repeating myself.
He’s a max player that so far isn’t performing like a max player. So that’s less than ideal but there’s still a very good chance that he’ll be able to turn things around and discover most of the magic that made him worth signing in the first place.
The alternative is trading him, but what are you going to get for him? As much as I’m hopeful that he’ll turn things around, hope doesn’t help his market. Nobody is going to trade for him and his huge contract unless they are sending back someone with as much of an injury question mark and as large of a contract. Are you ready to trade Kemba for Blake Griffin? Kevin Love? Andre Drummond?
I have no idea of what we’ll get from Kemba from game-to-game, but the devil you know is better than the one you don’t and when the devil you know actually happens to be a saint, well, that’s not so bad.
Bottom line: Maybe the time will come to trade Kemba, perhaps even as a negative asset. Feels like that should be an offseason decision and not one to undertake mid-year.
Well, as long as you put the asterisk on that comment and note that Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and to a lesser degree Payton Pritchard are untouchables. I would say that anyone else is available for a price. Everyone else is replaceable to a degree and the team is skewed a little too young for my taste at the moment. That sounds really harsh, but I’m not actually overly down on any one or two players. There’s just not enough there there.
Bottom line: We need to consolidate some of the picks, young players, and trade exceptions to turn into some really useful pieces of a championship puzzle.
So who’s the most to blame? Call it a cop out but to me everyone deserves some of the blame pie. I suppose if you force me to make a choice, I’d lean towards blaming the players more than the coach, but as Danny says, he’s the one that put this team together.
But enough of my thoughts, your turn to share your views below.