Here’s what Brad Stevens said about choosing his successor as Celtics head coach

"The good news is they just have to figure out a way to be better than the last guy."

Danny Ainge stepped down as President of Basketball Operations on Wednesday. He will be replaced by Brad Stevens. AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Brad Stevens realizes his new job with the Celtics starts with a high bar.

On Wednesday, one day after the Celtics bowed out in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, Stevens was introduced as the team’s new President of Basketball Operations after Danny Ainge stepped down from the role in a shocking move.

Stevens’s first task is an odd one: Finding his own successor. He quipped that the Celtics’ next coach will have an easier job than he did.

“I’m looking forward to really diving into this process,” Stevens said. “I think the good news about whoever we hire, they don’t have to fill Doc Rivers’s shoes like I did, and they don’t have to fill Danny Ainge’s shoes now like I do. The good news is they just have to figure out a way to be better than the last guy.”


Self-deprecation aside, the next coach will take the reins of a franchise that never missed the playoffs after Stevens’s first season at the helm. Stevens and the Celtics also made the Eastern Conference finals three times. While the Celtics underachieved this past season, Stevens’s players stood by him through a difficult year.

“Brad is great,” Jayson Tatum told Boston.com in February. “He always has us prepared. It’s not like the lack of preparation with us, or game planning, or not knowing what we need to know, from a coaching standpoint.

“We’re all one team. So everyone has to take some take some blame, but Brad does more than his part.”

Stevens said he didn’t consider both coaching and running the front office, and Celtics owners Steve Pagliuca and Wyc Grousbeck backed that decision.

“At the Celtics, those are two separate jobs,” Grousbeck said simply.

Pagliuca added that the Celtics see both head coach and president of basketball operations as 100-hour-per-week positions.

“It’s an extremely hard job for those 82 games and the playoffs and all the ups and downs of that,” Pagliuca said. “Definitely two jobs in my mind.”

Stevens added that he certainly would have kept coaching if Ainge hadn’t retired. A report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggested Stevens was worn down by the Disney World bubble, but Stevens called coaching in the bubble one of his most rewarding experiences.


“The bubble in itself was hard on everybody, but that was well-documented,” Stevens said. “But I haven’t seen basketball played at a higher level than when I was down there. It was largely due to the fact that we were there every day, we had gym space every day right down the hallway for three hours a day. You could work, you could practice, you could become great as a team, you could do things that in this past year you weren’t able to do from a practice perspective.”

Grousbeck chimed in with a smile: “This is a glimpse into Brad’s mind. He wants everybody in one place, 365, 24/7, just play basketball.”

Stevens added that he believes it’s “great” that the franchise will bring in a fresh voice and a fresh perspective.

“It has nothing to do with where I was with coaching,” Stevens said. “Coaching has been awfully good to me and I’m very thankful for every day that I got a chance to do it.”


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