What Brad Stevens’ promotion and Danny Ainge’s departure mean for the Celtics
The Celtics are making major changes to their organizational structure.
After 18 years at the head of the front office, Danny Ainge will step down as Managing Director. Brad Stevens, who has coached Boston for the past eight seasons, will replace him as head of basketball operations, as reported ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The team will now be looking for a new coach.
Why is this important: Ainge has been a long-time front office mainstay and Stevens was the Celtics’ second head coach since Tommy Heinsohn finished coaching in 1978.
- The Celtics have just had a disappointing season that saw them finish seventh seed in the Eastern Conference with a 36-36 record. They endured health, chemistry and depth issues en route to a first-round exit from the playoffs, issues in which coaching staff and the front office played a role.
- Boston has only had two coaches since 2004 while Ainge has been the GM since 2003. They have long had stability at the front office and with the coaching staff. Now they will undergo rare changes.
- Jayson Tatum, 23, and Jaylen Brown, 24, have only played for Stevens during their careers. The two young superstars will now have to adapt to a new coaching system for the first time in their NBA careers.
What Ainge has accomplished: Although the last few seasons of the Ainge era had a few bumps, Ainge was still one of the most accomplished and active general managers in the NBA over the past 20 years.
- “Trader Danny” moved fan favorite Antoine Walker early in his tenure with the team.
- Ainge orchestrated the chords that brought Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to Boston to form the 2008 title-winning “Big 3”.
- He also later traded Garnett and Paul Pierce in exchange for the draft pick package that became Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
- Ainge organized the ill-fated Isaiah Thomas / Kyrie Irving trade which ended up backfiring on both parties.
What Stevens Accomplished: Stevens helped speed up what was supposed to be a rebuilding of the Celtics and made the team an Eastern Conference contender despite slim rosters.
- Boston made the playoffs in seven of Stevens’ eight seasons as a coach, with three Eastern Conference Finals appearances.
- His 318 wins are the fourth in Celtics history behind Red Auerbach, Heinsohn and Doc Rivers.
- Despite his strong performance, at least one prominent member of the Celtics’ organization wanted to fire him during the 2020-21 season, for example Ian Begley from SNY.
What’s next for the Celtics?: They will have to hire a coach to replace Stevens, and this will be his first big move to the front office.
- Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports that Lakers assistant Jason Kidd and former Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce are expected to be candidates for the Boston job.
The bottom line: The Celtics were apparently not happy with how the 2020-21 season was going. They hope these changes will put them back on track to become a real competitor again.