Patriots

Why Bill Belichick expects ‘good friend’ Brad Stevens to thrive in new Celtics role

Belichick said Stevens's experience around the business of basketball, even while coaching, will help him as he transitions to the front office.

Bill Belichick Patriots Celtics Brad Stevens
Bill Belichick. Globe Staff

If anyone knows the challenges of running a franchise versus coaching a team, it’s Patriots head coach and de facto general manager Bill Belichick.

The six-time Super Bowl champion has essentially helmed the team’s football operations since he took the Patriots head coaching job back in 2000.

So he knows a thing or two about what awaits new Celtics president of basketball operations and (now former coach) Brad Stevens – a man Belichick says he knows well.

“I have a ton of respect for Brad. He’s a good friend, a great person,” Belichick said of his local basketball counterpart. “I think he’s certainly added a lot to the Celtics and sports in Boston. Personally, as a friend, he’s helped me as well in our conversations and the time we’ve spent together.

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“I’m sure whatever the setup is over there, he’ll enhance it, and the Celtics will continue to be the strong, competitive team they’ve always been.”

Stevens is stepping into his new role in a major Celtics front-office shakeup that began with the departure of Danny Ainge, who served as the team’s president of basketball operations for 18 years. Before that, Stevens had coached for the franchise since 2013, leading the Celtics to three Eastern Conference Finals appearances before this year’s disappointing first-round exit in the playoffs.

Though he’s reportedly been Ainge’s de facto assistant general manager since joining the team, how he’ll handle a full-time transition to an executive role remains to be seen.

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Belichick suggested Stevens likely already has more experience than people realize.

“When you’re part of a sport like Brad is or like I’ve been…there’s a lot of lines that run together there,” Belichick explained. “You can’t be the head coach and not be aware of contracts and acquisitions and things like that. Again, I don’t know exactly how they’re set up, and each situation’s a little bit different. But Brad has enough experience in basketball and with the Celtics and with the NBA to handle all the things that he’ll need to be handling.”

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Belichick also revealed he sometimes seeks advice from coaches in other sports, like Stevens — something he wouldn’t do with other NFL coaches: “When you’re talking about different sports and you’re not trying to gain an edge on them…it’s easier to have sometimes those frank conversations about your team or about whatever the situation is.”

Speaking of other coaches, Belichick also heaped praise on Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, whose squad won Game 3 of their Stanley Cup Semifinal matchup against the New York Islanders Thursday.

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