Coaches aren't the key to attracting star players

One mistake many people are making discussing the Celtics search for a new coach is demanding that Boston hire a coach that can attract star players. This sounds like it should make sense, and it certainly does in the college ranks, but who the coach is has rarely ever played a role in the signing of star free agents (or forced trades for that matter).

Shaq didn't sign in Los Angeles because of their head coach. In fact I don't even remember who their coach was at the time. Del Harris? LeBron has never signed anywhere because of a coach. With the exception of Erik Spoelstra, the man in that head coaching role, typically loses his job within a year when LeBron comes aboard.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving didn't sign with Brooklyn because they had a good coach in Kenny Atkinson. And just like LeBron, they got rid of their coach after a season. Same with Kawhi and Paul George. One year with Doc Rivers and they wanted a new coach. No, star players choose cities, other stars they want to play with, well functioning organizations, and a chance to win rings when they sign somewhere in free agency or force a trade (like Harden and Anthony Davis recently).

One of the last things the Celtics should be worried about in their coach hunt is to find a man or woman who will bring in star players. Jayson Tatum is much more likely to attract another star player in the Olympics than what a coach can do. The easiest way for the Celtics to add another star is to draft one. That's how Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Paul Pierce, Reggie Lewis, Kevin McHale, Larry Bird, etc all became Celtics. The other harder routes are to sign one in free agency or trade for one with high lottery picks or budding All-Stars (think the #5 pick traded for Ray Allen or Al Jefferson for Kevin Garnett).

To sign a star player in free agency, the Celtics would have to gut their roster of essentially everyone but the Jay's and that player would have to choose Boston over other suitors. Again, what the player thinks of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will be much more important than what they think of the current coach. What they think of Brad Stevens will be much more important as well. Since stars nowadays often want a say in basketball operations.

Again, this is why drafting stars is the much better route. Not only do you get way more years of the player on your team, their contracts are much lower, and and they aren't as high maintenance. A young Kevin Durant or Kawhi aren't going to force a team to do something or fire a coach. Veteran star players yield a lot of power in organizations.

Even role players like Chandler Parsons or DeAndre Jordan (at this stage of his career) have more power to convince star players to join teams than coaches. You want to trade for Dame Lillard? Well you definitely don't need to hire the coach he wants first. The bigger issue is how much you'd have to give the Blazers to trade him. He's under contract for four years anyway. It's not like if you traded him, there would be a fear he'd bust a Kyrie and walk.

The Celtics would be best served hiring the best coach they can. And by coach I mean just coach. The guy who can motivate his players to do the best they can (Think Brad Stevens up until this past season), who the players don't hate, who knows the game and X' and O's, can develop young players, and will help the team win the most games.

The irony of Kyrie getting Kenny Atkinson fired in Brooklyn is that if Atkinson didn't bring out the most in the young Nets players the years prior, Durant and Irving aren't even considering joining that franchise. The Nets were the functional franchise in New York so KD and Kyrie chose them. Reportedly the Nets didn't even want Kyrie, unless it was a package deal with Durant. Their GM Sean Marks roster construction, Atkinson's coaching, and the players play on the court made the Nets attractive. D'Angelo Russell looked like an All-Star on that team. But KD and Kyrie didn't sign with Brooklyn to play for Atkinson. They chose that franchise to be their franchise. Once KD was ready to play again they brought in their own coach in Steve Nash.

The Cavs didn't even know who their coach would be when LeBron decided to come back. And LeBron certainly didn't choose the Lakers because of Luke Walton. Kawhi and Paul George wanted to play together back on their hometown of L.A. I'm sure Doc Rivers did well in the Clippers meeting with Kawhi. But not well enough to convince him to sign there unless they traded two key pieces of their team and tons of picks for Kawhi's buddy right? And again a year later Doc was gone.

I don't know who the Celtics will hire as a head coach. I'm very confident though that if Brad Stevens is allowed to pick the man/woman he wants, we'll end up with a good coach. But fans and Celtics writers need to drop the narrative of needing to hire a coach to be a recruiter. This isn't NCAA basketball. If the new Celtics coach gets the team to win more that's the most he can do to attract other star players. The rest is on Tatum, Brown, and Stevens.