The Boston Celtics have announced they have hired Butler coach Brad Stevens to replace former coach Doc Rivers. Steven had spent the past six seasons with Butler, leading the program to back-to-back national championship games even though his team played in the mid-major Horizon League. Most famously, his Butler team came one half-court Gordon Hayward heave from defeating Duke and becoming the 2010 National Champions.
Stevens, at 36 years old now the youngest coach in the NBA, brings a lot of energy and a new focus with him. Many have begun speculating that the Celtics were looking to incorporate more analytics and advanced statistics into their basketball program and use all the information available to them. Stevens is known for having introduced such methods into his coachin at Butler. Some might credit it for his program's meteoric rise.
Stevens though has gained respect not just for that aspect of his coaching. He did an incredible job identifying talent and bringing them together to get Butler to those two national championship games and to make Butler a constant threat in the NCAA Tournament.
He proved that his team's trips deep into the Tournament were no fluke.
Brad and I share a lot of the same values," said Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge said in a press release. "Though he is young, I see Brad as a great leader who leads with impeccable character and a strong work ethic. His teams always play hard and execute on both ends of the court. Brad is a coach who has already enjoyed lots of success, and I look forward to working with him towards Banner 18.
Stevens will have his work cut out for him with this upcoming Celtics roster. Gone are Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, leaving a young roster with Rajon Rondo (coming off an ACL tear and known for his moodiness) and Jeff Green (who had open heart surgery less than two years ago) as his team's centerpiece.
It feels as though the Celtics are getting set to push the reset button a little bit and reload.
The roster though has some bright spots to begin building around besides the aforementioned veterans. Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass have proven themselves to be strong role players. Draft pick Kelly Olynyk is also a potentially versatile post player.
For Stevens and the Celtics then, it is truly new ground.
Our family is thrilled for the opportunity given to us by the leadership of the Boston Celtics, but it is emotional to leave a place that we have called home for the past 13 years," said Stevens in a Butler press release.
"We truly love Butler University and Indianapolis, and are very thankful to have had the opportunity to celebrate so many wonderful things together. What makes Butler truly unique is the people that we have been so blessed to work with. When it comes time for our kids to look at schools, we will start with Butler University.
Some Celtics fans may be quick to have nostalgia to the failed Rick Pitino experiment in 1997. Pitino soured that relationship though by insisting he be named president, taking the title Red Auerbach held, and then drafting many of his former Kentucky Wildcats, many of whom did not pan out.
While patience in a rebuild is a must, Celtics fans will want to see the team competing for Title 18 sooner rather than later.
The experiment is on though with Stevens as he and the Celtics are partners now moving forward.