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"Out with the old, in with the new" seems to be the mantra for the Celtics right now. Just days after they traded head coach Doc Rivers and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for younger players and future draft picks, the team has chosen a new coach: 36-year-old Brad Stevens is leaving the Butler University Bulldogs to move to Boston. He's now the youngest coach in the NBA.
Kyle Draper of Comcast SportsNet New England joined Morning Edition to look at the pick and what it means for the Celtics.
Bob Oakes: What do you make of this? What's your impression of Stevens? What does he bring to Boston?
Kyle Draper: Well, I think he just brings a young, fresh face and a young, fresh mind. He's one of the bright young coaches of the game today. He's had tremendous success at Butler — a program where really they weren't known for their basketball before him — taking them to two straight national championship games. So I think that's a good hire for Danny Ainge and, more importantly, Ainge signed him reportedly to a 6-year contract. And so the Celtics are in this rebuilding process; it sounds like to me that Ainge knows it's going to take some time and he's going to give Stevens some time to work his magic here.
So this isn't at all like the Red Sox when in their rebuilding and the first coach they hired, Bobby Valentine, they gave him a 1-year deal. They're giving Brad Stevens a long-term look and a long-term chance to rebuild this team.
Yeah, totally different than the Red Sox. And I think Danny Ainge is being realistic about the future of the Celtics. He knows it's going to take some time, and to try and ask the coach to turn it around with a 1-, 2-, 3-year deal, that's just not going to be able to be done. So a 6-year deal, reportedly worth $22 million, to me that's not only showing "Brad Stevens, we want you here; we're making a long-term commitment," but it's also showing the players and the fans that this guy is going to be here and we expect him to turn it around in the future.
What kind of coach is he?
He's a very cerebral coach, very detail oriented, very Xs and Os oriented, very stats driven, analytics driven. As a head coach and Xs and Os guy, maybe you can't find anybody better out there because Stevens is one of the tops in the game when it comes to that. The true test will be how he relates to the players, some who may even be older than him.
Which raises another interesting question. I'm wondering if you're concerned about this. He's coming out of college basketball, which can be very different from pro ball. Not every coach that comes out of college basketball successfully makes the transition to the NBA. Are you worried about that?
Yeah, a little bit. That definitely has to be a concern because in college you're dealing with teenagers, boys, and in the pros you're dealing with grown men. So how he relates to the players will be key. Rajon Rondo, the Celtics point guard, we know he's a very strong personality. He's very intelligent when it comes to the game. A lot of times he likes to have freedom on the court. Will Brad Stevens give him that? I think that'll be key for him, having that positive relationship with Rondo if he wants this to work.
Beyond Rondo, what should Stevens prioritize in order to rebuild the Celtics? And how do you think he'll play with the fans?
To me, I don't care how good a coach is — you can't win if you don't have the players, and that's when it falls on Danny Ainge. Danny Ainge has to do his best to make sure Brad Stevens gets the kind of guys that can win a championship. The fans will warm up to this Brad Stevens guy, but ultimately it's all about winning. Eventually the Celtics have to start racking up some wins. I don't know how long the fan base will be patient — two, three years maybe, tops. In year three, if he's not getting wins, it'll be tough for him.
This program aired on July 4, 2013.
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