Just a few short years ago, the Brooklyn Nets were a pick-devoid laughingstock, and NBA fans (well, not smart ones) were asking if you’d rather start a franchise with a superstar-level talent or Brad Stevens at head coach.
Little did we know that, in Game 5’s sleepy blowout Nets victory, we might’ve been watching Stevens’ final game at the helm.
On Wednesday morning, the Boston Celtics examined a playoff run that didn’t include Jaylen Brown and didn’t seem particularly representative of anything and chose to blow the whole thing up.
About an hour after rumors of Danny Ainge stepping down from his front office post — and potentially going to Utah to horde assets? — the whole plan came to fruition, and that plan did … not make much sense!
Gone are the days of Ainge running the show, and gone are the days of Stevens, one of the league’s premier tactical minds, coaching at all!
He’ll transition to the front office after years of not winning championships with the Celtics.
The Brooklyn Nets temporarily exploded the Boston Celtics this week. Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge are untethered.
Because, if Stevens was known for anything all these years, it was his people skills.
Only in the NBA can a wunderkind like Stevens receive all the effusive praise in the world, never lead his talented team to so much as a Finals appearance, then get to opt out of coaching at the age of 44 seemingly on a dime. Reports claim he was worn out from head coaching all the way back to last year’s stint in the Bubble, which brings up more questions, first and foremost: why was he allowed to coach this entire lost year?
After all of what happened in 2020-21, Stevens has apparently received a promotion of sorts, though not one that takes advantage of everything he’s been lauded for. He’ll now pick his replacement.
Ainge, on the other hand, built the 2007-08 Kevin Garnett/Ray Allen/Paul Pierce Celtics by going all in when presented with the opportunity, taking a shortcut to success by assembling a superstar-laden Big 3 (of course, it helps when you have a friend like Kevin McHale in the Timberwolves front office).
After that run, it seemed like he entirely forgot what got him to the mountaintop, hoarding assets like an old man in a cave, coming in second place for myriad trade candidates, and now leaving with a war chest full of unrealized potential.
Nothing makes less sense than Ainge being unable to swing a Paul George deal, or an Anthony Davis trade, or a Kawhi move, or even a Myles Turner-Gordon Hayward swap this winter! Clearly, he wanted to leave the Celtics with some sort of organic fantasy instead of stepping on the league’s throat one more time and winning it all. Unless there was some Celtics Tax that placed Jaylen Brown in even these lower-level star trade talks, it doesn’t make any sense.
His departure makes far more sense than Stevens’ elevation, which will leave us reeling until we figure out what exactly his end game is.
For now, let’s just bask in it: the Brooklyn Nets turned the tide so effectively on the Celtics, who came up short year after year following the KG/Pierce trade, that they chose to pack it all in and shuffle the deck chairs. Marcus Smart for head coach! Aaron Nesmith for popcorn vendor! Lucky the Leprechaun for traveling secretary! Why not?!