The move to hire Brad Stevens as the next Boston Celtics GM was a surprise. Danny Ainge stepping away at the beginning of June wasn’t too surprising, but promoting the 44-year old Indiana-native to that role opened up a ton of questions about his experience and ability to jump into that role when the roster needed some work right away. Now two months into his job, he’s been active on the trade market and appears to be working toward a larger vision with more moves in the pipeline.
After 6 years as an assistant coach at Butler, Stevens took over the head coaching role in 2007. He was successful at getting the most out of his players at a strong mid-major college program with two back-to-back NCAA Finals appearances (2010 lost to Duke and 2011 lost to UConn) which led to NBA teams sniffing around. In 2013, the Celtics convinced him to leave the college coaching life in his home state and take over one of the most successful NBA franchises in history.
In his 8 years at the helm of the Celtics, Stevens had a .557 winning percentage and won NBA Coach of the Month three times. He took the Celtics into the playoffs in 7 of his 8 years and to the conference finals three times, but couldn’t break through for a title. After a disappointing 2020-2021 season, the critics were calling for his job and wondering if he could take the next step. Then Danny Ainge stepped aside.
After hiring Ime Udoka as the next Celtic’s head coach, Brad Stevens got to work on the roster. He started by trading former UConn star G Kemba Walker and the 16th pick in this year’s draft to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Celtics fan-favorite C/F Al Hortford, C Moses Brown and a 2023 second round pick. The Celtics needed to move on from Walker, but the trade got mixed reviews despite being primarily a salary dump. Celtics fans liked the idea of having Horford back, but what does he have left in the tank? Moses Brown would be a nice pickup, but has already been shipped off as part of another trading frenzy.
Next, Brad shipped out mostly disappointing C/PF Tristan Thompson for Providence product and long-time crush of Celtics fans G Kris Dunn, C Bruno Fernando, and a 2nd round 2023 pick from the Atlanta Hawks. Then he flipped the previously traded for C Moses Brown to the Dallas Mavericks for veteran G Josh Richardson.
There are a lot of rumors floating around that Brad is far from done. Even though Celtics fans have wanted to see Kris Dunn in the green since he was drafted two spots behind Jaylen Brown in 2016, Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach has been reporting that the Cs are looking to move Kris Dunn to save some cap space just days after he was shipped to Boston. The other rumors surround a bunch of former C’s players and potential returns. I’m guessing Stevens is on the phone non-stop at this point trying to make a few more moves to free up some cap room to replace G/F Evan Fournier.
Only time will tell what Stevens will be like as a GM, but he’s started with a lot of trade activity and more to come. He’s certainly not afraid to make a move.