First Cup: Brad Stevens

  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: No urgency to this coaching search, he said. But in truth, Danny Ainge’s first thoughts turned to Butler’s Brad Stevens two Sundays ago, at roughly the same time Doc Rivers’ departure for the Los Angeles Clippers was finalized. According to a league source, that’s roughly when Ainge approached Stevens, who finally made the decision yesterday to become the 16th head coach in Celtics history. He will be introduced at a press conference tomorrow morning. And he’ll be here for a while. The 36-year-old agreed to a six-year, $22 million contract, according to a league source. Ainge, who did not interview any other candidate or reach out to anyone else, reportedly likes the idea of hiring a young coach who can grow with the Celtics’ young roster.

  • Staff of The Indianapolis Star: Butler University coach Brad Stevens will become the head coach of the Boston Celtics. The surprising news exploded on Twitter. Here is some of the reaction.

  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: If it had been another school, maybe Duke or Notre Dame or IU, there would be some reason to be angry about Brad Stevens’ departure from Butler, especially after he signed a long-term extension. But the iconic Boston Celtics? And a reported six-year, $22 million contract? And a chance to coach at the highest level in the universe? Good for Brad. Good for him. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Stevens, and he should not be blamed, even a little, for grabbing it with both hands. The guy is a coaching superstar, having taken Butler to two national title games. He is a perfect NBA coach: a low-ego guy, an analytics and statistics wonk. He will fit in perfectly in the NBA, even if it’s going to take some time for the rebuilding Celtics to be a playoff team. … It was a smart, -inspired, out-of-the-box, out-of-left-field move by the Celtics’ general manager. A special guy got a special opportunity. Can’t blame him. Can’t blame him a bit.

  • Gary Dzen of The Boston Globe: The Stevens hire was shocking, the stealth of the move particularly surprising given the public nature of the Doc Rivers negotiations. Celtics fans haven't had much time to dissect Stevens. Here are five things we know about his hiring: He's a whiz kid … He's unproven … He's already popular … He's a numbers guy … He's not a band aid.

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: The belief then is that Stevens will get along just fine with his point guard if he shows that he is able to put him in positions to succeed. That is, of course, the same way it works with everyone else. Players listen to coaches who prove they know what they’re talking about. Danny Ainge hired Brad Stevens because he’s talked to him in the past about basketball and discussed NBA thoughts in more detail over the last several days. Ainge obviously believes Stevens knows what he’s talking about and that he has the temperament to translate that knowledge to an older audience. The problem with the cautionary tales that have people questioning the ability of coaches to make the NCAA-to-NBA leap is that said tales were unwilling or unable to adapt to make the changes — some subtle — required by the move. The same can be said about some players. But while we admittedly don’t have much firsthand knowledge of Brad Stevens, it’s fair to say he has made his mark exceeding expectations.

  • Stephen Nesbitt of The Indianapolis Star: Boston was prepared for change, but not for this. The Boston Globe led its Wednesday sports section with the following listing: Wanted -- Head coach of the Boston Celtics. Must be prepared for indefinite rebuilding era. Must be able to develop young players. Must get along well with strong-headed point guards.Nobody knew the Celtics’ answer was 36 years old, without a single game of NBA experience and in a contract through 2025. The Globe listed 13 potential replacements for Doc Rivers — none of them was Brad Stevens. … Stevens will be left to develop the scattered pieces of the stripped-down roster in Boston. His first concern, though, will be Rondo. It remains to be seen whether the Celtics intend to keep the guard through the rebuilding phase.

  • Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe: When asked what one factor would define whether Stevens is successful, a league source said, simply, “players,” referencing a key difference between college and professional basketball, which is known as a player’s league. “It’s no offense to him,” the source added. “You swap places with him and [Miami head coach Erik] Spoelstra, I still think the Heat win 50 or 60 games next year. He has a system, but it’s who’s carrying out the orders? “He ain’t out-coaching nobody. That ain’t happening. You’ve got to get your guys to play in an effective system, but he’s got to get the right blends of guys or he has no shot.” Still, the unexpected hire was deemed to be a safe one for Stevens, at the very least, “because he can always return to college and get a top-five job,” one league source said. Several league sources expressed doubt that Stevens would stay with the Celtics for the full duration of his contract. “He’ll line it up right and leave around the time Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski are done at North Carolina or Duke and he’ll take one of those jobs in a couple years,” a league source said. “I bet my house on that one.”

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: Stevens was known in college basketball circles as a boy wonder who quit a marketing job at Eli Lilly and latched on at Butler as a volunteer, in 2000. He is a strong adherent of advanced statistics, making him a perfect fit with the Celtics organization, which was an early adopter. Stevens won 166 games at Butler, the most by a Division I coach in his first six seasons. His teams won at least 22 games each, and all made the tournament, combining to go 12-5. In 2010 he became the youngest coach to lead a team into the Final Four since Bobby Knight in 1973. Of the 12 head coaches hired across the N.B.A. this off-season, eight will be first-timers. But six of those rookies have N.B.A. bench experience, and another, Jason Kidd, just completed a 19-season playing career. Stevens will be trying to break a longstanding trend of college coaches who have failed on the main stage. That list includes Rick Pitino, who flamed out with the Celtics in the late 1990s.

  • Kyle Neddenriep of The Indianapolis Star: Just days from college basketball’s evaluation recruiting period, Butler is without a coach after the stunning news Wednesday that Brad Stevens is going to the Boston Celtics. It’s not ideal timing for Butler, especially with many high school seniors-to-be whittling down their options. “It’s not uncharted waters,” ESPN national recruiting analyst Dave Telep said, “but it’s waters very few people have gone down before. You’re almost at the point of no return for July unless you go out and hire somebody tomorrow.” There are three five-day evaluation periods in July, which is considered a crucial time as coaches make their final push for prospects. Butler, which does not have a commitment in the 2014 class, appeared to be making a strong push for Minnesota native J.P. Macura, a 6-5 shooting guard who made an official visit to Butler last week.