|Brad Stevens sings praise of Avery Bradley: ‘You could make a strong case for him to be defensive player of year’||06.06.16 at 6:18 pm ET|
WALTHAM – If Brad Stevens has anything to say about it, Avery Bradley and his $8 million per year salary isn’t going anywhere this offseason.
The Celtics coach spoke for the first time since the star defensive guard was chosen first-team NBA all-defense last week.
“I think it was clearly deserved. I think that you could make a strong case for him to be Defensive Player of the Year or in consideration for that because he is so versatile in his ability to defend guards,” Stevens said after the second of two pre-draft workouts Monday in Waltham.
The Defensive Player of the Year award went to the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard, who won the honor for a second straight year.
But that didn’t keep Stevens from pointing out that Bradley could arguably be placed among the best defensive guards in basketball.
“I think if you polled the guards in the NBA, really 1 through 3, Avery’s name would come up a lot,” Stevens added. “So, obviously it’s against great competition. The guys who got honored all deserve it. But I don’t think it’s as simple as saying there’s one Defensive Player of the Year when you have somebody of Avery’s caliber and his ability to impact the game.”
Stevens said that he has been in contact with Bradley, and that rehab on his right hamstring is coming along after straining it badly in Game 1 against the Hawks, forcing him to miss the rest of the playoffs.
“I don’t have an update on where he is in the physical rehab part, but obviously after he won the award we communicated, and he’s getting better,” Stevens said.
Bradley’s name could come up in trade talk at some point this summer, as he is not only considered one of the more underrated guards in the league, he is affordably priced. Bradley is entering the third year of a four-year contract totaling $32 million.
WALTHAM – The Celtics are beginning to narrow down their potential choices for the No. 3 spot in the draft.
Brad Stevens acknowledged Monday that he is watching video clips of all the possibilities and discussing their strengths with his staff.
“I’ve got a good idea when I talk to Danny and the front office about who they are really targeting and focused on, as far as, again, there’s seven or eight guys,” Stevens said after Monday’s doubleheader workout that involved 12 players from college and Europe.
The names that come to mind most frequently after Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are Buddy Hield, Jaylen Brown (who worked out last Wednesday), Dragan Bender, Kris Dunn and Jamaal Murray.
But what Stevens made clear is that, with eight picks overall, including five in the second round, the Celtics have to be ready to pick wherever and whenever, depending on what deals may or may not be made.
“We’ve got so many picks that you can’t stop there,” Stevens added. “Whether you’re watching clips, individual clips or highlight films or whatever the case may be, what I like to do is I like to watch full-game footage, and specifically end-of-game footage on a lot of different guys. We have so many picks, any game you turn on, almost might include somebody, so it’s pretty good.”
Austin Ainge joked that Stevens asked, as part of his new contract, that he not have eight rookies to coach next season. Stevens, appreciating the humor, said the number of picks doesn’t make the job any easier in terms of evaluation.
“I don’t know about easier. I think it’s hard any time you’ve got the volume of potential picks that we have and all that goes with that. I think that, again, my job is just to give an opinion when asked,” Stevens said. “So those guys have been watching all year. Those guys know what they are looking for, who they are looking at. Again, these workouts, I think, sometimes help validate some things for them. They are probably more beneficial for our staff because we haven’t seen guys as much, specifically we haven’t seen guys live.”
|Full Court Press: How the Brad Stevens deal got done, the kids are alright with Danny Ainge||06.04.16 at 8:46 pm ET|
When Brad Stevens eventually took the plunge and decided to move his family to Boston in the summer of 2013, he did so having completed a very thorough vetting process of what he was getting into.
After all, what would any Stevens move be without first having given plenty of thought to it beforehand?
Helping him to uncover every stone and make sure he was ready to jump in with both feet (as he and Danny Ainge made reference to this week) was his representative — and wife — Tracy Wilhelmy Stevens. An attorney by trade, she negotiated the initial contract with Wyc Grousbeck, Stephen Pagliuca, Rich Gotham — and, of course, Ainge.
“She gets a fee,” the Celtics coach deadpanned in classic Stevens form.
She played a big role this time again, when the Ainge told Grousbeck he was perfectly happy staying in Boston and that the real priority should be to lock up the prized head coach beyond the three years left on his $22 million deal signed around Independence Day 2013. Stevens said this week that actual talks on an extension began in the middle of this season.
“The first time I was approached it was midseason, and it was a real brief conversation,” Stevens said. “But it was during a time when we were weren’t exactly lighting the world on fire, so it makes you feel even better about where you are when that happens. And so, after the season, Danny came in and we talked real briefly about it. It’s never been much of a question for me. Obviously, I’m flattered to be considered to be here. Then also to get a chance to continue to do it.”
That means it was early January, when the Celtics had lost six of seven, including consecutive ugly home defeats against the Lakers and Nets. That stretch just happened to coincide with rumors swirling of some prime college gigs possibly opening up.
“I guess I was kinda surprised,” Stevens said of the extension with still three years remaining on the original deal. “Again, it tells you the way that they think and the way that they value people around here. It’s why you enjoy working here.
“I’m not big into negotiations and I don’t have a third party doing that for me. It’s just, ‘Hey, we want to extend you, here’s what we’re thinking and what do you think?’ Then, a little bit of back and forth between us. It was a pretty quick process. It wasn’t very long. Again, we were flattered to be asked to do that and it provides good stability for our family, too. I understand that these things can change in coaching. Ultimately, we’re excited to be offered that opportunity.”
|Wyc Grousbeck says Red Auerbach ‘would be very happy’ with Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens||06.01.16 at 5:47 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Back in the day, Red Auerbach did the job Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens do now and won nine NBA titles, including a remarkable eight straight.
Obviously, the NBA world of today is significantly more complicated and involved and it takes two people like Ainge and Stevens to try and win just one championship.
Still, these are the Celtics, and anytime you talk long-term goals, as was the case Wednesday with the extensions of Ainge and Stevens, you go back to Auerbach for a reference point. That’s what owner Wyc Grousbeck did Wednesday at the press conference at the Celtics practice facility.
“These jobs – the president of basketball operations and the head coach of the Boston Celtics are storied positions. Both were held by the incomparable Red Auerbach,” Grousbeck said. “I personally believe that Red would be very happy. This is the right thing for the Celtics, you represent excellent and Celtic pride on and off the court. These are the exact people we want to run the Celtics.
In signing Ainge and Stevens long-term, Grousbeck believes the team is setting a foundation for years to come.
“It’s the principal job of ownership to find the very best people, to run the basketball side, to find them, recruit them, bring them in and offer them all the support and encouragement we can and retain them – create an environment where they want to stay. These conversations happened recently, very forthrightly,” Grousbeck said. “There was great interest on both sides. They were easy conversations. It just represented a great re-commitment from Brad and Danny to the Celtics.”
|Danny Ainge on unified Celtics with Brad Stevens: ‘Great things will happen in Celtics history’||at 5:25 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics sound like a unified group heading into what co-owner Stephen Pagliuca called the “most complex” offseason the franchise has had in the 13 years of the current stewardship.
In announcing the contract extensions of president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and coach Brad Stevens, the common theme Wednesday afternoon was one of unity and commitment.
“This foundation we have is very unique in the world we live in — pressure-packed, public world in pro sports,” Ainge said. “The fact we have such great unity with ownership I think is unique. I value that premium. It’s a great working environment, I have a great relationship here, stronger trust, year in and year out. As we work together I believe great things will happen in Celtics history.”
Perhaps most intriguing about Ainge’s opening comments Wednesday was his admission that it really didn’t take much to get him to sign on the dotted line to extend his current contract, which owner Wyc Grousbeck acknowledged expired before that of Stevens, who still had three years left on his initial $22 million deal signed in 2013.
“To tell yoju a little bit, our negotiation was basically Stay, and I said Wyc, do you want me to stay? We had a 10 or 15 minute negotiation, and then our focus turned to Brad,” Ainge said. “It turned to what we need to do. We all understand it’s emotional and very challenging, him with two kids at home and all you have to manage. I’ve been there. We’re lucky to have Brad and Tracey with us in a long term situation.
“They don’t have to answer any more questions about Indiana and Butler, and Duke, North Carolina. We’re very excited to have Brad. Who he is and what he does on the court is unmatched. We’re grateful he wants to stay with us. In the three short years he’s been with us, and it’s good he’s making a long-term commitment to us as well.”
|Wyc Grousbeck extends Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens: ‘[They] represent exactly what the Boston Celtics stand for’||at 11:40 am ET|
The Celtics have made their first big move of the offseason.
No, they haven’t added or subtracted players yet. Owners Wyc Grousbeck and Stephen Pagliuca just recommitted themselves to the people who will be making those decisions.
The team announced Wednesday that they have extended the contracts of President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge and Head Coach Brad Stevens. Terms of the deals, including the length of the extensions, were not disclosed.
“Danny and Brad represent exactly what the Boston Celtics stand for: excellence on and off the court,” Grousbeck said in a statement. “With their long-term deals in place, we are continuing to build towards competing for Banner 18. Our ownership group thanks them for their hard work and their re-commitment to the Celtics.”
Ainge, who just completed his 13th season as Celtics President of Basketball Operations, has compiled a record of 565-484 (.539) during his tenure, making 10 trips to the post-season, three Conference Finals appearances and two trips to the NBA Finals, including winning the NBA Championship in 2008. That season, fellow NBA executives voted Ainge the Executive of the Year for the 2007-08 season.
“I am grateful to continue to work in an environment where I’m surrounded by so many people that are an integral part of our success,” Ainge said in the team release. “We have had great stability in this organization since the ownership group bought the Celtics. We know our strengths and weaknesses and as a group we work well together. Wyc, Irv, Steve, Rich, Brad and I have a common goal in pursuing Banner 18 and I’m looking forward to this next chapter in Boston Celtics history.”
As for Stevens, he completed his third season as the team’s head coach, guiding the team to a 48-34 record and clinching the team’s second consecutive playoff berth. Stevens is a two-time NBA Eastern Conference Coach of the Month winner, most recently for games played in February 2016, where he led the Celtics to the best record in the Eastern Conference (9-3) and a 6-0 mark at the TD Garden.
|Brad Stevens on Dale & Holley: Tradition is Celtics’ best selling point for star free agents||05.09.16 at 4:22 pm ET|
Celtics coach Brad Stevens joined Dale & Holley on Monday to discuss the current NBA landscape and the future of the team. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
This is considered a pivotal offseason for the Celtics, who are coming off a first-round elimination at the hands of the Hawks but have the third-best shot at the first overall pick because they have the Nets’ first-round selection. Whether with picks, a trade of roster players or in free agency, the team hopes to add at least one star player to the roster.
Stevens, who is coming off his third season in Boston, says he will play whatever role he can in trying to recruit players, but noted he considers the Celtics’ history to be the biggest draw.
“I’ll play an active role,” he said. “I’ll do anything that I can as far as meeting with guys, calling guys, whatever I can after the July 1 time frame when we’re given the go-ahead to meet with those guys. I think the best selling point, I would say that I’m probably not near that. I think that the tradition, the history, the way that the city embraces the Celtics, the way that our players feel about being Celtics, the amount of pride that they’ve taken in that, and this group in particular, how thankful they’ve been to get a chance to play in front of these fans and in this place where those banners hang above you — to me, that’s the top of the list.
“I’m a basketball guy; I love the game and I love the tradition and the history and the tradition of the game. Maybe that just means to me, but I think it means a lot to a lot of people. Certainly there are other factors involved, when ultimately free agents have to choose a place to play, but for me, those were a lot of the things that obviously flattered me about being asked to be the coach here.”
The Celtics had an All-Star in Isaiah Thomas this season, but the feeling around the team is that it needs to have a true superstar in order to contend with teams like Cleveland in the East. Stevens acknowledged as much, but noted it’s how a team shapes its roster around stars that allows the team to thrive.
“A lot of the NBA is really focused on whoever your one, two or three guys that draw the most attention are, but then who can space the floor for those guys and how effective is that all working together,” he said.
Added Stevens: “Let’s say that you end up drafting a person that is a great rim-protector but may have limited offensively ability, for example. You’ve got to come up with a plan to manage and maximize that. I think that generally speaking, I think that versatility — and when I say versatility, I’m talking about guys that can guard really 2 through 4 — because at times those guys can switch everything and make it as difficult as possible on a number of different positions while at the same time shooting are two of the big things that we just have to continue to focus on.”
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