Is Brad Stevens on the hot seat?
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith explained Thursday on “First Take” why he believes the Boston Celtics head coach’s job is in jeopardy amid the team’s ongoing woes. The Celtics are 23-25 and in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings. It’s a disappointing showing for a team that started the season with hopes of contending for a place in the NBA Finals, and Smith reckons Stevens is struggling to motivate a youthful Boston squad.
“When you’ve got players that young, (Celtics president of basketball operations) Danny Ainge has got to get veteran players around them,” Smith said. “That’ll help. But you, as a coach, knowing what you’re working with, you’ve got to be able to make sure that it ain’t just noise to them. And Brad Stevens this year doesn’t strike me as that guy.
“I’m not advocating that the man not be a head coach, that he’s not a worthy coach in the NBA, that he wouldn’t do a good job on a lot of different teams — because he has done a good job on Boston. But based on the personnel (they) have, the fact that they’re not going anywhere. It’s perceived — I interviewed Jayson Tatum on ‘SportsCenter,’ and Tatum put it on himself and the players. He said ‘It’s our job, it’s our job.’
“But the bottom line is, if you’re the coach, what are you there for if you can’t peel that out of them? And I don’t see that in Brad Stevens, and I think if things continue to go this way, Danny Ainge is going to need to move in a different direction.”
Stevens called out Celtics players publicly for their lack of resolve in the face of adversity Wednesday night in the aftermath of their loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Stevens probably intended to galvanize the team, and fans, with those extraordinary comments.
The Celtics have underachieved for all but the first month of the season and currently are mired in a stretch of eight losses in their last 12 games. Changing coaches seemed like an unimaginable prospect when the season started, but here we are: some of the most prominent sports media personalities are discussing it openly, and the talk surely won’t end here.
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