A message to Danny Ainge: You know you’re allowed to criticize Brad Stevens, right?
The Boston Celtics’ missteps this season are largely the product of precisely what Ainge has pinpointed: His roster building and the performance of the players.
Fair, of course.
But the C’s president of basketball operations is so hellbent on dancing around even the slightest possibility Stevens could be blamed for some of his team’s issues, that it’s becoming equal parts embarrassing and laughable.
He did it again Thursday on 98.5 The Sports Hub, saying “This is a Danny Ainge issue and a player commitment issue.”
Now, if you’re looking for a “#FireStevens” take here, look elsewhere (here, maybe?). But not putting some of this on Stevens is chucklehead behavior.
Is Stevens not the one misusing Robert Williams? And we all know how for literal years, Stevens has been in love with Jeff Teague, so much so that he constantly force-fed the clearly ineffective guard on the Celtics up until recently.
A lot of the things Stevens has been lauded for, he’s underperformed at this season. Historically, he’s been able to put seemingly mismatching parts together and gotten them to work. But his lineup combinations at times this season have been clunky.
His scheming late in games, an area he’s regarded as one of the best in the NBA, has been bad (though some of that is on Jayson Tatum).
Of course, these issues, to a degree, come down to roster building, which falls on Ainge. There’s only so much Stevens can do with the personnel his boss has assembled. That’s why he shouldn’t be fired.
But at the same time, that argument rings hollow when he’s gotten some ragtag teams to show up during the regular season and playoffs. And if player commitment is such an issue, some of that has to be on the coach. That’s literally one of the chief things that gets coaches canned in any sport.
If you’re ranking the level of culpability for the Celtics’ woeful showing this season, Stevens isn’t at the top. At the very highest, he’s third. But Ainge is embarrassing himself and insulting the fanbase when he acts time and time again like none of this is a Stevens problem.