Boston Breakdown: New Head Coach?

By Shawn Dennis

If you’re a Boston sports fan, you expect nothing but the best from all Boston teams, regardless of the current position the roster is in. If they aren’t exceeding expectations, then you figure it to be a failure of a season and come up with a million reasons why they need to make a trade, fire a coach, or do something to make a difference. 

However, when this actually happens for fans, they either panic, question what the hell the organization is doing, or completely contradict themselves, wishing that nothing happened in the first place. I can safely say this myself, considering I’ve been a Boston fan since birth. 

This seems to be the on-going situation for the Boston Celtics as Danny Ainge stepped down from his post, giving his President of Basketball Operations job to none other than the Celtics head coach since 2013, Brad Stevens. 

It was inevitable that the Celtics were to make a move with Ainge’s eventual departure from the team, but handing it down to Stevens after a lack-luster season has fans wondering if this was the best move they could’ve made. Most could make the argument that Stevens’ tenure was up after this season, but to promote him with this position is a bit of a head scratcher for several reasons.

When it comes to being in the position that makes the decisions such as: offering contracts, making trades, and signing players, hiring someone who’s coached the team for practically the past decade is like telling a kid to choose between eating ice cream and brussels sprouts. It’s as biased and favored as it can possibly get. 

Maybe, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Stevens will pick and choose who he thinks will produce the most together on the team as he has the inside information towards what players get along best, who’s tolerable to coach, who really wants to be in Boston, and who he wants on the team for the long run. However, that doesn’t leave out the fact that Stevens will more certainly than not have confirmation bias as to who he wants on this roster. 

The Celtics knew that they had to bring on a new head coach, but to make the announcement of Stevens taking Ainge’s spot the morning after losing to the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs makes it seem as if this had been planned for quite some time. 

Sure, Stevens is an asset to Boston and has made several comments towards how he has become a “Masshole” himself definitely brings on the impression that he doesn’t want to leave the city. But I would’ve rather had the Celtics interview some potential candidates for both positions than to make the decision in less than 24 hours after their season ended. That, or give him some sort of assistant job relevant to what he has with his coaching experience, considering he’s never dealt with the ins and outs of what Ainge’s job entails. 

Either way, the Celtics still need to hire a head coach, preferably one that’s going to lay- down-the-law” and fit the “loud mouth” Bostonian character rather than the content and quiet Stevens. There’s not a true leader on this team and in order for Jayson Tatum to grow as a player and take his game to another level (if he hasn’t reached it already), he needs a coach to serve his role. 

So, who’s their guy?

The market for head coaches is quite dismal. One name that comes to mind is former head coach of the Orlando Magic, Steve Clifford. Clifford brought the Magic to the playoffs two of the three seasons he coached, but due to injuries and how young the Orlando roster is, he just doesn’t seem to fit the timeline and goals for the future. His defensive game plan and mindset towards facilitating the ball through a big man like he did with Nikola Vucevic is something that the Celtics are in desperate need of, but I don’t think he would fit the Boston vibe well. 

On the complete opposite spectrum, the Celtics could go with a former player coach like Chauncey Billups, Sam Cassell or Jason Kidd, as they are all fascinating candidates to discuss. Kidd coached both the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, and recently opted his name out of the list for the Portland Trail Blazers newly open position, but he’s yet to have been interviewed in Boston. Cassell is highly respected in the league, as he has won three NBA Championships as a player, one being with the Boston Celtics, and would certainly be a person worth interviewing for Stevens. As for Billups, who’s now an assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers, he will likely be given the opportunity for a head coaching job once the playoffs are over. I also think Billups should be given an interview, but out of the three discussed, Cassell is the favorable option for me.  

As for who’s already been interviewed and has a somewhat decent chance of landing the position is current Celtics assistant, Scott Morrison. Morrison was selected as G-League Coach of the Year with the Maine Redclaws in 2015 and has been a part of the Celtics since 2017. Stevens may also be biased in this decision, but as said as before, perhaps not for the worse. 

I think it’s essential to know who the head coach is going to be before making any sort of prediction as to what trades and signings the Celtics will look for this offseason. Seeing how quickly they made the decision with Stevens and Ainge, I don’t think it will be long before a new coach is in town. 

Regardless of the hiring, both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown need to be heard in what they are looking for in their next coach, as I think these are the only two players that have secured their spots. 

Although I have not the slightest clue what the Celtics are going to do next, a lot of change is coming and it’s likely to happen all at once. If I did have to take any sort of guess, I’d say either Sam Cassell will fill the role or a sleeper pick, Kenny Atkinson, might be in contention. It all depends on what direction the Celtics want to go in and as long as it’s not towards rebuilding, I’m content with whoever.

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