The Boston Celtics took over NBA headlines on Wednesday with the announcement that they had hired Brad Stevens as their new head coach. Stevens was the head coach at Butler University for the past six years.
Most speculated that Stevens would eventually make a leap from Butler to a major college basketball program, but nobody saw this coming. Not from Stevens nor from the Celtics. Calling the hire “shocking” would be a gross understatement.
Stevens’ departure leaves Butler with the tough task of replacing their former coach. The 36-year-old won 166 games in his six years with the Bulldogs and led them to back-to-back NCAA title game appearances in 2010 and 2011. Butler agreed to join the new Big East Conference a few months ago, and officially made the move on July 1. Joining the Big East makes replacing Stevens that much more challenging.
Speaking of challenging, Stevens will be taking over for former Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. Rivers was nothing shy of spectacular in Boston, leading the storied franchise to two NBA Finals appearances and winning a championship. Stevens must also find ways to win without previous Celtics greats Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. The tandem was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a draft night deal.
Notable key players returning to Boston for the 2013-14 season include point guard Rajon Rondo, and forwards Brandon Bass and Jeff Green. Boston drafted Kelly Olynyk and traded for Colton Iverson in June’s NBA draft, likely adding them to the mix of younger players.
It will almost surely be a long rebuilding process for Boston, and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has to hope Stevens can lead it. Stevens has been known to develop young players into strong contributors. That likely will be a big part of his new job with the Celtics.
At just 36, Stevens becomes the youngest head coach in the NBA. He will be officially introduced as Boston Celtics head coach at 11 a.m. on Friday.