How much blame does Brad Stevens deserve for the Boston Celtics’ underperformance this season?
It’s a fair question to ask after Boston posted a 36-36 record, leading to a spot in the NBA play-in tournament as the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference.
But FS1’s Colin Cowherd on Monday cautioned against firing the Celtics head coach, who probably would land a new job in no time — perhaps even with a team that could make life very difficult for Boston.
“Brad Stevens would be unemployed for five minutes. And be very careful about letting a guy go that could come back to haunt you,” Cowherd said. ” … If Milwaukee struggles in the playoffs, (Mike) Budenholzer’s out. They’re gonna hire Brad Stevens. And he’s gonna beat you for 10 years with Giannis (Antetokounmpo) — as long as Jrue Holiday and Giannis are together, they’re gonna win a lot of series.”
Check out Cowherd’s full take — in which he compares Stevens’s situation to Andy Reid’s departure from the Philadelphia Eagles — in the video below.
Stevens is a very good coach. Few dispute this notion. The question is whether the Celtics’ locker room has tuned him out to a degree, contributing to Boston’s on-court woes.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge already acknowledged the organization will make “changes” this offseason. Still, it’s unlikely those will involve Stevens, whom Ainge has backed publicly, and that could wind up being a good decision for Boston.
After all, who would the Celtics hire that’s better positioned to succeed? And would Ainge really want to risk watching Stevens thrive with the Milwaukee Bucks, or another team, moving forward?
“Be very careful about running (Stevens) out,” Cowherd said. “Because my question is always: How long are they unemployed? And could they come back to haunt you? That’s why when (New England Patriots head coach) Bill Belichick trades Jimmy Garoppolo, he wants him out on the West Coast. He doesn’t wanna have to face him.
“Just be careful about Brad, because I think Milwaukee is one of those teams sitting there. If they don’t win, they’re getting him and Stevens will end his career — I mean, he looks 9 (years old) — (and) he’d spend 15 years there, win a bunch of titles and you’re stuck with Kemba Walker and somebody’s third choice as a head coach.”
The Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference finals in three of the last four seasons. They have a strong core — led, of course, by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown — but they’ve failed to develop into legitimate NBA Finals contenders, casting inherent uncertainty over what Boston’s future looks like.