With Larry Bird surprising the basketball world by deciding not to retain the services of Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, the question arose of whether Brad Stevens might be interested in returning to his home state of Indiana.  Stevens is under contract with the Celtics for three more years (sidebar--is it already time to think about locking him up long-term?) and I feel quite confident in saying he isn't going anywhere.

In fact, while discussing the Vogel "firing" (technically his contract was up and he wasn't offered a new one) on SiriusXM NBA Radio Friday, Stevens went out of his way to praise the Celtics organization.  Via Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston, Stevens said:

I will say this: Just doing the research before coming here and taking this job, I’m so fortunate to be here and so fortunate to be a head coach here because there’s obviously a lot of movement, but this is a great place to work and these are great people to work for. I have felt empowered every single day I’ve been here. That means that you feel like you made a great decision and I’m very fortunate.

Regardless, it's still fun to debate what Stevens' value might be on the open market right now.

OK, that's not actually possible (more on this shortly), but clearly the answer is yes--the best player in the world is a greater asset than any coach.  What about the best Indiana Pacer?

Again, this can't be done, but I think I'd actually say no anyway.  The difference between Curry and George is enough to consider the fact that a great coach can help a team for decades (Gregg Popovich started as GM of the Spurs in 1994 and is in his 20th season as head coach), while a 26-year old All Star has roughly 10 good years left at most.

Now, moving on to what is possible: When the Celtics released Doc Rivers from his contract so he could go to Los Angeles, Boston received the Clippers' 2015 first-round draft pick as compensation (which became RJ Hunter).  However, a subsequent Kevin Garnett trade to L.A. was not allowed because coaches can't be dealt for players and the league viewed it as part of the same transaction.  The two clubs were barred from making any trades for the entire 2013-14 season.

So the question is, how many draft choices is Brad Stevens worth?

I agree, Stevens is almost certainly worth more than two run-of-the-mill first-round picks--but what if they're near the top lottery?

For me, I'm not sure the No. 2 pick in this draft would be worth letting Stevens go.  Both Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are still a gamble, regardless of how promising their talents are.  However, if this hypothetical swap occurred after the lottery and the Celtics had No. 1 as well, wouldn't they have to think about it given the chance to take both Simmons AND Ingram?

On the other hand, if the C's get No. 1, don't they want Stevens around to coach a young squad with so much potential?  This is making my head hurt now...

My thought is, the only way Danny Ainge would consider parting with his budding-superstar coach is if he was able to pull off a Nets deal 2.0--multiple first-round picks spanning several seasons.  Of course, there are two major problems with this: One, no franchise is ever going to fall for that type of thing again without putting protections on their draft choices, and two...

Good point.  Let's just keep Stevens here.

Follow Mark Van Deusen on Twitter @LucidSportsFan

Mark Van Deusen 5/07/2016 11:32:00 PM Edit
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