The highly-respected, 36 year old former coach of the mid-major powerhouse Butler Bulldogs has, according to multiple reports, accepted an offer from the legendary franchise to replace Doc Rivers following his departure to the Los Angeles Clippers in a trade, and with a rebuilding process right around the corner. The initial agreement is reported to be for six seasons.
The move is a risk for the Celtics, but if you consider the context, it’s a calculated one which could indeed have a massive upside. Expectations among the Beantown faithful will be lower in 2014 given the recent blockbuster trade which saw Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce move on to the Brooklyn Nets. There won’t be any assumption of competing for an Eastern Conference championship, much less a World Championship.
Young coaches can often thrive under such a scenario where the typical dog-eat-dog pressure of being an NBA head coach where winning is all that matters is lessened by a degree. It appears Boston is just as interested in Stevens’ analytical background — not only professionally, but at Butler — where he employed the only full-time statistician in college basketball, Drew Cannon.
In an environment where it’ll be necessary for Boston to maximize their resources while staying lean and rebuilding from a modest core, having folks on staff with the analytical acumen of Stevens and Cannon promises a nice return on investment. This is, assuming, the statistical analyses applied to the college game can also be reasonably applied to the NBA game, which, as we know, is an entirely different animal.
Another intriguing factor here is that youth in the coaching ranks could be just enough to encourage Rajon Rondo to chill out some and play basketball, putting his evident attitude issues to the side. Can Brad Stevens be the guy to talk him down from the ledge, and in the process, keep other teams in hot pursuit at an arm’s length?
In simplest terms, it’s a moderate risk, maximum reward scenario. If Stevens fails, and the Celtics struggle, it’ll be as easy as could be for Danny Ainge and the team’s brass to blame the struggles on the rebuilding process. If Stevens can somehow engineer continued success with limited resources, the same team management look like oracles.
The Celtics are taking a calculated risk — one sure to be panned by many as too risky — but also one that makes perfect sense given context, and context is everything.