Last week on Boston.com a Globe reader by the name Ted F marinated on Brad Stevens the trade asset for a while. His conclusion? The only players in the NBA he'd deal Bradley Kent Stevens for were Anthony Davis and ... that's it. That's Ted F's whole wish list for Stevens. No Lebron, no Steph, no Harden. Not the first pick in the draft. If Ted F was the Celts' GM: you better dangle The Brow, or he's hanging up the phone. Ted F drives a hard bargain.
Even though you can't actually trade coaches for players, only compensatory draft picks, assessing Brad Stevens' trade value is a really interesting concept. What's the market for a head coach that's a rising star? Throwing out the time Pat Riley pushed Stan Van Gundy off the sideline mid-season and claimed it for himself, the best example of a coach getting "traded" is old friend Doc Rivers netting a first round pick on his way out west to lead the Clippers.
Should Brad Stevens fetch more than the coach of your 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics? I'd say so. Stevens is way younger and just took a team that's essentially one big second unit into the playoffs. His team played themselves into every game against the Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Rivers needed stars. Stevens doesn't.
For some evidence of the Rivers Depends On Stars Corollary, look no further than the 2006-2007 Celtics. That team had Pierce hit the shelf mid-season. They lost 18 games in a row. Check out the cast of characters in this Celtics' box score from a routine beating during that skid:
Sure there are some sub-replacement level players on that list (hi Allan Ray!), but based on what we saw this year, Stevens just wouldn't lose 18 games in a row with that team. Ainge traded Rondo and Green, Sully went down with an injury and this year's Celtics actually improved. Rivers needed his guys. We've seen Stevens take whoever Ainge signs and put out a team that competes night in and night out.
So if Stevens is more valuable than Rivers, what does that mean? He's worth more than a late first round pick? For sure. But if Flip Saunders called and said he wanted Stevens to take over as coach for the #1 pick? That's an offer that Ainge loses some sleep over. I think you take Towns and hope he's your franchise center. The Globe's Chad Finn had this to say:
Here's the really fascinating question -- would he trade Stevens for Boogie Cousins? I say yes. And without any remorse, too. I believe Ainge thinks he can identify the next excellent coach, the next Stevens, Kerr, Budenholzer or Joerger, much easier than he can get into a position to acquire a true cornerstone star.
I have to agree there. Boogie makes the cut. And Steph, Harden, Lebron, Durant, Kawhi... please. You can definitely win a title with any of them at the heart of your team. As good as Brad Stevens is at maximizing talent, you don't hang Banner 18 with a wizard for a coach and a team full of role players. But let's hope Ainge can find a way to keep Stevens on the bench and put a marquee superstar on the floor.