Commentary

Brad Stevens already on fast break

Celtics coach hits ground running in whirlwind start to NBA coaching career

Updated: July 17, 2013, 10:38 AM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The plan was to sneak home for some family time. After a whirlwind first week as head coach of the Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens flew from Orlando to Indianapolis last Thursday with hopes of a few quiet moments with his wife and two young children. Maybe even a little shut-eye.

It didn't happen, of course. His first day back home saw him trek two hours south to Louisville for a 75-minute confab with point guard Rajon Rondo, one of the pressing items on his lengthy new-job to-do list. Even when he returned to Indianapolis, Stevens' phone never quite stopped buzzing.

[+] EnlargeBrad Stevens and Danny Ainge
Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty ImagesBrad Stevens got a firsthand look at some of his players with Danny Ainge at the Orlando Summer League.

Stevens was back in Boston on Sunday and, a day later, he helped introduce three of the newest faces on the Celtics' roster at a news conference for the players acquired from the Brooklyn Nets.

With hints of bags under his eyes as he spoke to a small group of reporters after the news conference, Stevens was asked if he had found any time to rest over two nonstop weeks of activity.

"No, there won't be much of that," he admitted. "I went back to the Midwest for a couple days to hunker down and spend time with my family, even then the phone's ringing off the hook and you're just trying to move on to what's next. Once I have my life organized better, it'll be good. It'll be really good."

Right now, it's total chaos. And that's not bad.

But even before Brad took the Celtics' job, the Stevens family was looking for its next home near Indianapolis and was living with Stevens' mother, Jan, including when the Boston brass came to visit. Now their real estate search has shifted from Indiana to Massachusetts, with no guarantee of how quickly they'll find the perfect spot to start a new life.

But Stevens can't wait for that moment, a little bit of normalcy amid this sharknado of change. While former Celtics coach Doc Rivers kept his family back home in Orlando after joining the Celtics, Stevens says he needs his young family nearby.

"I've got a 4- and a 7-year-old and I'm going to be with them every chance I get," Stevens said of his daughter, Kinsley, and son, Brady. "No question about that, they will be here. And we're looking forward to being a part of the community. That's something that's always been really important to us. And we did a bunch of things in Indianapolis that we'll continue to do in Indianapolis, but we want to be active here."

Lately, he's been active in a lot of communities. Since being hired, Stevens has pingponged from Indy to Boston (introduced on July 5) to Indy (parade commitment on July 6) to Orlando (summer league from July 7-10) to Indy (trip home on July 11) to Louisville (day trip for Rondo on July 11) and back to Boston.

His family understands the responsibilities and demands that come with inking a six-year, $22 million contract to lead one of the most storied franchises in NBA history. So like any good father, Stevens made sure to keep the cartoons rolling when he'd sneak out to field a phone call (or three) during his visit home.

"You keep Dora the Explorer going," Stevens quipped. "That allows you to take the call."

Stevens has stressed he's process-oriented and has been using the past two weeks to acclimate himself as much as possible to the NBA game. He said he wasn't much fun in Orlando, absorbing all he could while watching summer league games and sitting next to Boston's front-office staff, including president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

Beyond that, getting to know his team presents a challenge. Watching film won't help much as the Celtics are a team in transition and still don't know exactly how their roster will look when training camp opens in September. Stevens has stressed that he wants to know each player's strengths and weaknesses before that first practice in Newport, R.I., hoping his summer preparation allows him to hit the ground running when it's time to focus on the on-court product.

Through his travels, Stevens has been able to introduce himself to nearly all of Boston's returning players, including much of the young core (Avery Bradley was in Boston for his introductory news conference; Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee were among those in Orlando). Stevens has stressed the importance of building immediate relationships with his players and his efforts over his first eight days on the job made a major impact.

He's also in the process of cobbling together a coaching staff. Jay Larranaga and Jamie Young were retained from Doc Rivers' staff, although reports indicate Larranaga has drawn the interest of the Philadelphia 76ers in their search for a head coach. The Celtics will wait until all of the assistants are in place before formally announcing their additions, but sources have indicated that Micah Shrewsberry, a Stevens assistant at Butler, and Ron Adams, a highly regarded NBA assistant who was surprisingly let go in Chicago after last season, are expected to be on his staff.

Those who know Adams speak glowingly of what he'll add and believe his experience and knowledge will be extremely valuable as Stevens gets his NBA feet wet.

Stevens still has to nail down what his coaching philosophies will be at the NBA level and how he'll lead a young team. But one aspect he's certain about: There will be no tanking.

"No way," he asserted when the topic was brought up on Monday, saying the idea has never been suggested "by anybody that I've talked to in this organization."

Asked what he'd say to fans who want Boston to tank for a better pick in what's expected to be a loaded 2014 draft class, Stevens said, "I don't think they'll like me all that much, then. I'm one of those guys, I'm going to prepare every single day to be the best that we can be.

"Certainly when you lose guys like [Kevin Garnett] and [Paul] Pierce and Jason Terry, you lose a lot of production. And you lose guys that, especially with Pierce and Garnett, that are icons. And that's always tough to replace. But at the same time, the guys that are coming here have been very productive NBA players, and the guys that are back are very hungry and productive NBA players. So I think it's a good mix."

Pressed on if tanking works, Stevens just smiled. With a .772 winning percentage at Butler (166-49), he's probably the wrong guy to ask about losing games.

"You're talking about stuff that I have no idea about, nor do I care to know anything about," Stevens said. "My deal is a daily process to try to win the next possession."

And maybe, once that possession is won, to find a little family time as well.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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