WALTHAM, Mass. — The Boston Celtics have plenty of important decisions to make this offseason. But the ones they announced Wednesday show where their top priorities lie.
Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck and managing partner Stephen Pagliuca held a press conference at the team’s practice facility in Waltham to announce long-term contract extensions for president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens.
The moves were significant, especially considering Stevens still had three years left on his initial six-year contract. Grousbeck said Ainge’s contract was set to expire before Stevens’, and the team was intent on keeping the duo intact.
“This isn’t a move for any short-term reasons,” Grousbeck said. “This is a move for the future of the Boston Celtics, hopefully for Banner 18 and beyond.”
Stevens’ contract certainly is a sign the Celtics trust the 39-year-old head coach. In a league where job security is a relative term for NBA head coaches, the C’s felt it necessary to lock up Stevens just halfway through his current deal. Even Stevens says he didn’t see the new contract coming.
“I guess I was kind of surprised,” Stevens said. “But it again tells you the way that they think and the way that they value people around here, and I think that’s why you enjoy working here.”
So, why the quick trigger on Stevens? Ainge gave a glimpse into that reasoning with one half-joking but telling reply.
“We’re grateful to have Brad and (his wife) Tracy, and have them with us for a long-term situation,” Ainge said. “We don’t have to answer any more questions about Indiana and Butler. And Duke. And North Carolina.”
Stevens, who led Butler to back-to-back NCAA title games before coming to the Celtics, obviously is highly coveted at the collegiate level, and rumors once persisted that he’d consider a return to college ball. It seems Ainge and Co. were well aware of the reputation Stevens carries, and that could have led them to make sure he isn’t going anywhere.
“Brad (was) a historic coach at Butler,” Pagliuca added. “We didn’t just get him here to get him away from Duke.”
Fortunately for the Celtics, it appears Stevens didn’t need much convincing to stick around. When asked if he was seeking a contract that would place him among the league’s highest-paid coaches, Stevens answered in humble terms.
“For me, personally, I’ve gotten paid more to coach than I ever dreamed I would be,” Stevens said. “So, I certainly don’t take for granted anything. I got a heck of a deal, and that’s good enough, and I’m very thankful for that. So, no, it’s not important to be up in the top whatever (of coaching salaries). That doesn’t cross my mind.”
Terms of Stevens’ and Ainge’s contracts weren’t disclosed, but it’s clear the Celtics paid Stevens enough to make him stick around. It’s also clear keeping him in Boston was a major priority for the C’s as they try to build a championship contender with the wealth of assets at their disposal.
“I think it’s important for our fans and our players and everybody to know that he’s not looking for another opportunity,” Ainge said of Stevens. “He’s here for the Celtics.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images
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