Can Nice Guy Brad Stevens Make Difficult Decisions Like Danny Ainge?

Stevens' relationship with the players could make those tough conversations even tougher

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June 3, 2021

It’s probably fair to say Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge don’t exactly seem like two people cut from the same cloth.

Stevens, the Boston Celtics’ new president of basketball operations, has been widely mocked for his soft-spoken demeanor. The 44-year-old certainly doesn’t seem like a confrontational type of person while even his mannerisms on the sideline can tend to seem like a happy-go-lucky individual.

Ainge, who stepped down from his role of nearly two decades Wednesday, on the other hand, always has made the tough decisions. He put team success above relationships in the pursuit of winning. Perhaps nothing comes to mind more than Ainge’s trade of fan-favorite Isaiah Thomas, the point guard who gave his all to the Celtics even after going through unspeakable tragedy with the death of his sister. Oh well. Ainge saw opportunity and Thomas soon was gone.

Stevens, now assuming Ainge’s old role, will be tasked with making those difficult and sometimes even heartless decisions. And it’s fair to question if he can do it, especially seeing as he has spent the last eight years in the organization getting to know the same players — perhaps Marcus Smart, Kemba Walker, etc. — he could be tasked with releasing, trading and shipping out of town.

How does Stevens think he’ll do in that regard?

“I think one of the things that I’ve learned from just being around Danny is you have a job to do, you have a responsibility,” Stevens said during a press conference Wednesday. “That responsibility is to the Boston Celtics and our fans and the pursuit of excellence and the pursuit of the opportunity to compete for championships. But you can also care about people. You can also be there and do everything you can to help someone and care about them when they’re here or no longer here. I think that’s really important.

“You’re right,” Stevens continued. “We’ve been through a lot together, at the same time I think I have a good idea, one of the benefits of moving into this new role is, I’ve got a good idea of what we do and don’t do well. And what can accentuate some of our best players. So there’s a lot of work to do. There’s a lot of work ahead.”

Now, we’ll just have to wait and see how well Stevens is able to do it.

Thumbnail photo via Darren Yamashita/USA TODAY Sports Images
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