Celtics

Jeff Goodman says Brad Stevens’s promotion could be a ‘one-year deal’

Jeff Goodman of Stadium suggests Stevens might decide to return to coaching rather than stay as president of basketball operations for the remainder of his contract.

Brad Stevens Danny Ainge Celtics
Brad Stevens (left) and Danny Ainge. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
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When Danny Ainge went to Boston Celtics ownership to inform them of his apparent desire to step down as president of basketball operations following this season, the two sides reportedly agreed that promoting Brad Stevens to fill the role could be the best move for the franchise.

“This franchise values continuity and believed moving Stevens into Ainge’s post would increase the chances of keeping the rest of the front office in place,” wrote The Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach Wednesday. “Yes, they would be losing Stevens on the bench, but ownership reasoned that it was more challenging to find a high-level GM than a high-level coach.”

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And so it came to pass: Stevens will move upstairs to take on the new challenge of replacing Ainge, who led the team’s basketball operations for 18 years.

But questions still remain about the reasoning behind Stevens’s succession of Ainge and whether other factors played a bigger role in the move than mere respect for Stevens’s basketball acumen.

Stadium basketball analyst Jeff Goodman suggested on WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show Thursday morning that Stevens’s succession was made necessary by money concerns and the perception that he wasn’t getting through to his players anymore.

“I don’t know if they looked at other candidates, but I don’t think he [Stevens] was the heir apparent at all,” Goodman said. “I think this was kind of, hey, it’s not working as head coach. What else can we figure out here? Danny Ainge puts the stamp of approval on it to ownership, and they say, alright, you know what, it won’t cost us any money. I think that’s part of it. The financial aspect played in here from what I was told.”

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The financial aspect referenced here is Stevens’s contract, which has him locked in with Boston through the 2025-26 season. Eating the remaining money on that deal would have made it even more difficult for the Celtics — who are already paying luxury taxes — to build a team around its young stars.

“They knew they had to make a major move. Obviously Jayson Tatum’s untouchable, we know that,” Goodman went on. “I’ve said they should look at trading Jaylen Brown for Bradley Beal. But I’ve said you have to make a major move, and a major move isn’t Marcus Smart. A major move is looking at trading Jaylen Brown for somebody, another All-Star, or making a move with your coach. Well, they made a move with their coach here and didn’t have to pay the 30 million that Brad Stevens is owed. You gave him another gig.”

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According to Himmelsbach’s piece, Stevens has already acclimated himself somewhat to NBA front-office responsibilities. He has reportedly served as the Celtics’ de facto assistant GM throughout his eight-year tenure as head coach.

But there’s another question Goodman posed regarding Stevens’s future in the role: “How long, Brad?”

“How long do you want to do this?,” he added. “Can you really deal with not coaching long-term? I could see this being a one-year deal for Brad. And then after a year, it’s like, I miss coaching. That’s all he’s done for the last 15 years, 20 years, is be around players.

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“It’s very different being a GM. Obviously the pressure is not quite the same on a daily basis, and the schedule is not nearly as taxing. He’s got two kids who are in their early teenage years, so he’ll be able to see his family more, and I think that’s very important to Brad Stevens. But ultimately, I don’t think this is a long-term deal for Brad Stevens as a GM in the front office. I think he’ll want to coach again.”

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