June 2nd, 2021, longtime Celtic’s executive Danny Ainge announced his retirement from the Celtics organization. This thrusted long-term coach Brad Stevens into the open position. Ever since this shocking transition, lots of “baggage” has come out on thoughts of the former Celtics’ head coach. Stevens’ first front-office move was trading disgruntled point guard Kemba Walker. Kemba, who spent two seasons in Boston, was restricted in his playing time all season. Coming off a significant knee injury that held him to only 43 games this shortened season, often sitting the second night of back-to-backs. Walker never really fit in the Celtics’ dynamic, being such a ball-dominant guard. He averaged 31.4 minutes, 19.9 points per game on a .423 field goal percentage, 4.8 assists per game, and 3.9 rebounds. It was clear at times this season that even when playing at his most effective, the Celtics’ offense would sputter. Right around mid-June, it was made clear that Kemba and the Cs would most likely part ways. On June 18th Kemba was sent to Oklahoma City along with a first-round pick (16th overall) and a 2025 second-round pick in return for former Celtics big man Al Horford, young center Moses Brown, and a 2023 second-round pick. Rumors since this trade have swirled about how Kemba and Brad Stevens had what is being called a “tension-filled relationship.” This comes from Kemba feeling like he was coached harder than other players on the roster.
These rumors came out the same day it was told that current and former players instructed former free agent Blake Griffin to sign elsewhere following his release from the Detroit Pistons. Griffin then joined division rival, the Brooklyn Nets. Other rumors swirled around how coach Stevens favored players over others, such as Marcus Smart, a player Celtics’ fans have been split on for years. As Stevens moves up the ladder to the front office, it is hard to expect such biases to pass. At times this season, it seemed as if some players lost respect for Stevens as their coach and did not play as hard as they should have. This led to some players “welcoming a coaching change.” It seems as if the core players are requesting their new head coach to be a former player, and by looking at the second round of interviews, Stevens is fulfilling that request. Coming in for the second round is Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups who is a 5-time all-star and a 1 time NBA Champion with the Detroit Pistons in 2004. Darvin Ham, another candidate, invited to interview again, who played 8 seasons on a variety of teams, including the same championship team as Billups, also fits that request. Lastly, Ime Udoka is the third coaching candidate coming back for a second interview. Ime played 7 seasons across 5 NBA teams. No matter who is chosen as the next play-caller for the Cs, the divide might be too great for the organization. With young stars such as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown up-and-coming quality players like Robert Williams and Payton Prichard, this could be too tumultuous of a situation for some young players to endure. There are two possible outcomes from Steven’s bumpy transition so far. The unlikely being that everything works out and the Celtics are able to return to their championship ways. The other being the most likely, the Cs and Brad Stevens’ relationship will end just how many other young players' careers have gone recently, in absolute disaster with many young stars wanting out. Much to the likes of Paul George, CP3, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, and even local (recently eliminated) Kyrie Irving. If the Celtics don’t want to follow suit with the rest of these teams, the best move they could make is to get as far away from Brad Stevens as possible. If not, expect to say goodbye to the young and talented core Boston has assembled. This you can expect to launch the Cs into yet another rebuild, coming off the toes of what looked to be a very promising one.