Stephen A. Smith does not believe the Boston Celtics should move on from Brad Stevens over the offseason.
But in wake of how the 2020-21 campaign has transpired for the C’s to date, Smith believes it’s time for the organization to start evaluating the future of its head coaching position.
Smith and “First Take” co-host Max Kellerman on Monday were asked if Stevens, who’s in the midst of his eighth season with Boston, should be on the hot seat. While Kellerman doesn’t believe Stevens’ seat should start heating up, the nature of the beast that is the NBA makes Smith think otherwise.
“He should be on the hot seat,” Smith said on ESPN. “I am not advocating that he should be fired. When you have his résumé, you definitely should keep your job. I’m very fond of Brad Stevens. I like him a lot. I think he’s a damn good coach in terms of knowing what he’s doing. But I’m tired of having to explain this to people: Coaches and organizations make decisions every day, every month, every year about players. Sometimes it’s not just about your ability, it’s about whether or not your time is up. Is it time for a new voice? When it comes to coaches, there is absolutely, positively nothing wrong with asking that question.”
Smith continued: “The two stars of your team are a 24-year-old by the name of Jaylen Brown and a 22-year-old by the name of Jayson Tatum. On the sports talk in Boston and in the papers and in the tabloids and beyond, they are talking about how these guys sort of tuned him out. Now, in fairness to Brad Stevens, I interviewed Jayson Tatum. Jayson Tatum said on ‘Stephen A.’s World’ on ESPN+, ‘No, that’s not true.’ OK? So, I want to make sure we’re fair to Brad Stevens in that. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with us looking at them and saying, wait a minute, with two stars like that, you’re supposed to be better than a .500 squad regardless of what’s transpired with Marcus Smart or Kemba Walker or whatever.
“As we’ve watched this team periodically throughout this year, they have been on a roller coaster. We don’t know what’s wrong with them a lot of times. They seem to be tuning him out. There was times when they said we might need a new voice. When you have that going on and you’re getting ready to get bounced out — in all likelihood — in the play-in game, I’m sorry, you deserve to be on the hot seat. He doesn’t deserve to lose his job, but we need to look at him and say, ‘Wait a minute, we need to keep an eye on this ’cause it doesn’t seem right.’ “
Smith probably is right, as this isn’t the first season the C’s have noticeably underperformed on Stevens’ watch. Boston had one of the most talented teams in basketball in the 2018-19 campaign and didn’t even make it out of the second round of the playoffs.
Like Smith said, it would be a rash decision for the Celtics to cut ties with Stevens after this season. But head coaches often are the sacrificial lambs when a franchise is looking for a jolt, so Danny Ainge and Co. might have to give the matter a hard look if similar issues surface next season.