Danny Ainge says Brad Stevens will be one of the greatest NBA coaches
ever--does he mean it?
Brad Stevens, a coaching legend? Seems like his general manager already envisions him as one.
Expectations are going to be pressed hard on Stevens this year, with constant praise coming his way across the league (even from the likes of Lebron James) for what he accomplished in Boston last season.
"I wouldn’t have brought him in and given him a six-year contract if I didn’t think he was really good and special," Ainge said to CSNNE. "I’m the first one to see how special he was.”
Going on to express his pleasure that Stevens is getting the credit he has over the past year or so, Ainge dropped the bomb: “It’s my opinion that in 10 or 20 years, we’ll be talking about Brad as one of the great coaches to ever coach in the NBA."
As invigorating as last year was, with Stevens’ calm and intelligent presence leading the way through a constantly overturning roster, it’s hard to take that statement seriously at the moment. What’s more interesting than the statement itself is the motive behind it.
Trade whisperings were circulating around Boston weeks before the draft. Ultimately Rivers departed to the Clippers, the Celtics were compensated a '15 first rounder, while Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were sent to Brooklyn on draft night.
Ainge was fortunate to land a coach in the aftermath as good, if not better, judging on last season’s massive 40-42 over-achievement. Through dozens of players and transactions; Stevens adjusted, pushed harder, and most importantly won.
Now Ainge clearly doesn't want Stevens slipping away the same way Doc did.
Tanking was something Stevens, a natural developer of talent from the college game, didn't seem thrilled with. While it was forced upon him in his first year, his fiery opposition became more evident in the second season.
While the question begs whether risking the team’s long-term rebuild for Stevens is a difficult one, he has certainly been publicly identified as a special coach by Ainge, especially with these latest round of comments. Hopefully this is indeed a view of his potential rather than hubris over the great hiring, because it could be either.
It would take a special kind of coach to successfully perform the unconventional rebuild of not landing a major free agent or drafting a star, but rather compiling and building upon internal talent. Better yet, a coach being a bigger force than the players on a great team would be an astonishing thing in the star-driven NBA.
The potential for a trade down the line is something Ainge also has emphasized, so he could be looking upon Stevens to build up assets in his system to push across in a major deal.
Whatever the motive was, Ainge is making it clear with his strong comments that Stevens is the man in Boston. The long, uncertain road towards future championship contention is in the hands of those two, and it sure sounds like Ainge wants Stevens to be at the head of it when the glory comes.