The Boston Celtics rocked in the NBA world this morning with a sudden flurry of seismic changes. Danny Ainge, the longtime president of basketball operations, is out. Retiring after a long career as a player and executive. Brad Stevens, head coach wunderkind is also out. From the sidelines, at least. He is vacating his role as head coach to take the mantle in the front office as president with the Celtics.
Stevens, who was still among the 5-8 youngest coaches in the NBA is now the youngest POBO and will lead the process of naming his successor.
I knew changes were coming in Boston after a disappointing first-round exit and fewer avenues toward major improvement after the mythical trade for a superstar never materialized, but I didn’t expect this.
Ainge, 62, had reportedly been contemplating retirement for a while while Stevens apparently was worn out after eight seasons on the sidelines including the intense period inside The Bubble.
Already, names are being thrown around for the next head coach of the Celtics with some familiar names — Lloyd Pierce, Jason Kidd — being mentioned as well as some surprises with Pistons connections — Rick Carlisle, Chauncey Billups, among others.
It is important to stress, however, that it this point EVERYTHING is speculation regarding head coach, and the dust is still settling from the front-office shakeup.
The next move will be interesting for the Celts who have clearly underperformed expectations, but have also dealt with a fair amount of injury issues, especially this season.
It is also hard to fault the franchise for not trading young, budding stars Jaylen Brown and especially Jayson Tatum for more immediate upgrades. Those players, 24 and 23 years old, respectively, are now mainstays and Tatum is approaching a superstar trajectory.
Still, the fact that Ainge and the Celtics became a meme for always ALMOST making a big trade to land that big superstar means something is not quite right in Boston.
The Celtics are out of the surplus draft capital from years of savvy trades. Boston owns its future first rounders but has none incoming.
They also have the borderline untradeable deal of oft-injured guard Kemba Walker and decisions to make on recently acquired soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Evan Fournier and Semi Ojeleye. The only tradeable pieces outside of Brown and Tatum are veteran Marcus Smart and young, developmental pieces like Payton Pritchard, Romeo Langford, Aaron Nesmith and Grant Williams.
Hard to see how that could net you “the missing piece.”
The next few months should certainly be interesting.