If the Boston Celtics want a youth movement, Brad Stevens definitely fits the bill.
The 36-year-old Butler University coach was quietly tapped to lead the Celtics on Wednesday, with the team somehow avoiding the rumor mill that surrounds NBA job openings before making the announcement. The Boston Herald reports Stevens has signed a six-year contract with Boston.
For a team that just traded away coach Doc Rivers and franchise players Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the move is especially bold. Though he’s built up a strong resume at Butler — leading the Bulldogs to two straight national championship games and never winning fewer than 22 games in a season — Brad Stevens comes without a lick of NBA experience.
But that could be a good thing. Celtics President Danny Ainge insists that the team isn’t giving up on the 2013-14 season, but instead committing to a youth movement built around guard Rajon Rondo. In Stevens he could have a coach that grows along with the team.
Ainge praised Stevens in Wednesday’s announcement.
“Brad and I share a lot of the same values,” Ainge said in a press release issued by the team. “Though he is young, I see Brad as a great leader who leads with impeccable character and a strong work ethic. His teams always play hard and execute on both ends of the court. Brad is a coach who has already enjoyed lots of success, and I look forward to working with him towards Banner 18.”
Though there are likely to be some questions over whether the 36-year-old Stevens will command respect of players only a few years younger than him, the move has the potential to pay big dividends for Boston. The team has a nice cache of draft picks thanks to the deals for Rivers and Pierce/Garnett, so Stevens will have the chance to build the roster that suits him.
More importantly, the hire of Brad Stevens showed that the Boston Celtics aren’t bound by league norms. Conventional wisdom said they should have interviewed a group of the same five or so coaches rotating between teams, but these re-treads bring nothing new. Look at Vinny Del Negro with the Clippers or Mike D’Antoni’s struggles with the Lakers.
And because no one expects the team to do anything next season, Brad Stevens can have a terrible start without anyone blaming it on him.