Celtics

‘Nobody can come out of this blameless’: Jackie MacMullan weighed in on Brad Stevens’s future

MacMullan added that if Boston keeps Stevens, "there have to be changes."

Brad Stevens
Brad Stevens during a Celtics-Nets game in April. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Amid an inconsistent 2021 regular season, the Celtics are facing the increasingly likely prospect of having to participate in the NBA’s postseason play-in tournament.

Given that the team’s winning percentage is at its lowest in May since 2015, head coach Brad Stevens has been one of several targets of criticism. But according to longtime NBA reporter Jackie MacMullan, Stevens will not only stay in Boston, but could get a greater say in the roster construction.

“I really do,” MacMullan replied when asked about the possibility, “because I don’t know if everybody remembers, they signed Brad Stevens to an extension in August of last summer.”

MacMullan, speaking on NBC Sports Boston on Monday, listed factors that hampered Boston throughout 2021.

“I think he’s going to get a chance to come back because, again, I mentioned the COVID issues, the injury issues,” said MacMullan.

“I do think there have to be changes,” MacMullan added. “Does Brad Stevens deserve blame? Of course he does. Nobody can come out of this blameless. There are nights where you wonder if he’s getting to this roster. If they’re listening, if they’re paying attention.”

For MacMullan, a telltale sign of the team’s struggles under Stevens this season has been its diminished defensive capacity.

“All I can tell you is Brad Stevens’s teams are predicated on defense, and their defensive rating has plummeted from last season,” noted the longtime Celtics reporter.

As for one reason why Stevens might be less at fault for the drop in performance, MacMullan pointed to the free agent departure of Gordon Hayward.

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The 31-year-old left Boston in what eventually became a sign-and-trade with the Hornets, agreeing to a four-year deal worth $120 million with Charlotte.

“I’ll say it again, I’ve said it 100 times, everybody seemed so glad that Gordon Hayward was walking out that door,” said MacMullan. “Let me tell you guys, He was the big, strong wing defender that kept this unit humming. He was also the best facilitator on this team that sacrificed shots to make the extra pass last year. I can’t stress enough how bad it was that Gordon Hayward walked away for nothing.”

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