COMMENTARY | Few professional sports leagues witness the kind of unexpected and impulsive hiring and firing of coaches like the NBA does.
Take the new coach of the Los Angeles Clippers Doc Rivers, for example. Before reaching coaching stardom in Boston managing the "Big Three," Rivers was fired by the Orlando Magic after leading them to three straight trips to the playoffs despite a less than spectacular roster.
Although it's likely this season, like virtually every season, will witness its fair share of firings, Boston Celtics fans are lucky enough to have one of the most interesting and dynamic young coaches in the NBA, Brad Stevens.
The following four reasons explain why, for at least the next couple of seasons, Stevens is going to have the opportunity to try revolutionary approaches to coaching in the NBA without fear of his losing his job:
1. A new face in a new place
The most obvious reason Stevens will have a long leash to work with is because he's a brand new coach to the NBA. Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and the rest of the front office know that Stevens will likely need a season or two to figure out all of the inner workings of professional basketball after a career in the college ranks without any NBA experience. If Ainge wanted to hire a coach who could hit the ground running from the first day of training camp, he would never have hired a guy who is now the youngest and least experienced coach in the NBA.
2. Dollars and cents
The Celtics signed Stevens to a massive six-year, $22 million contract to leave his cushy and extremely secure job at Butler University. If Boston were to fire Stevens after year two or even three of his deal, it would still have to pay him for three additional seasons or more before being able to free up that money for another head coach. Like it or not, the Celtics have hitched their wagon to Stevens and are going to either thrive with him or fall with him.
3. Potential is everything
Boston believes, whether correctly or incorrectly, that Stevens could become the next truly great NBA coach. Stevens worked his way from a volunteer in the basketball office at Butler University to one of the most successful head coaches in the college game, showing not only his incredible talent but also a tremendous work ethic. Stevens built Butler, a mid-major school whose best days appeared to be behind it, into a perennial powerhouse that routinely competed with the likes of Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky.
While it's true that what works in college doesn't always (or even usually) translate to the NBA game, Ainge and company are excited to see what kind of unique approaches to the game Bradley can offer at the next level and will surely give him plenty of years to prove himself.
4. A rebuilding roster
With the departure of future Hall of Famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the entire landscape of the Boston Celtics shifted overnight from "championship mode" to "tear everything down and rebuild mode." With All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo's future still up in the air and veteran forward Kris Humphries likely on the way out the door as well when his contract ends after the end of this season, no one has any clue what Boston's roster will look like next year.
With a situation like this, it's hard to imagine Brad Stevens taking any of the blame for a couple of losing seasons. Barring some unimaginable scenario (like LeBron James shocking the world and joining the Celtics), no reasonable fan or NBA analyst has high expectations for Boston and coach Stevens for the foreseeable future.
The lack of expectations allows Stevens the opportunity to experiment at the NBA level in ways few coaches can, but there is certainly no danger of the blame resting on Stevens' shoulders. In fact, I think Danny Ainge, whose job is also very secure, has more to worry about than Stevens will for quite some time.
Don't agree with me? Tell me why I am wrong on Twitter @THATCelticsGuy.
Justin Haskins is a New England native and a freelance journalist. He has been obsessively following Boston professional sports for 10 years and has been published in numerous online publications and websites.
- Sports & Recreation
- Boston Celtics
- Brad Stevens
- Danny Ainge