C's Stevens returns to TD Garden happy in new roleTonight's game will be Brad Stevens' first as the president of basketball operations, after having spent the previous eight seasons as the team's head coach.
Even with the bottom portion of his face covered by a mask, there was no mistaking the jovial mood of Brad Stevens.
The Boston Celtics' Monday night preseason opener against Orlando was the first time since he came to Boston in 2013 that Stevens would be attending a Celtics game and not be the team’s head coach.
And he’s loving every minute of it.
“I haven’t had to worry about practice plan, game plan, none of that,” said Stevens. “I’ve enjoyed watching Ime (Udoka, Boston’s first-year head coach) put the team together and figure out how he wants to play, who compliments who, and all those things that go into that.
Stevens, who was elevated to the position of team President of Basketball Operations during the off-season after longtime Celtics executive and former Green Team player Danny Ainge retired, has wasted no time putting his imprint on the roster with a series of bold, decisive moves.
Four-time All-Star Kemba Walker was the first major player from last year’s team coached by Stevens, to be moved when he traded Walker to Oklahoma City (he was later bought out and signed with New York) for a blast from the Brad Stevens past, Al Horford.
Other key additions by the Celtics during Stevens’ first offseason as the team’s final decision-maker, include Dennis Schroder, Josh Richardson, Juancho Hernangomez and Bruno Fernando.
And those moves were made to not only add some much-needed depth but to put a better cast of talent around their core players, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
The Celtics’ bench was among the NBA’s worst a year ago when it came to scoring. According to Hoopstats.com, Boston’s bench averaged 30.7 points per game last season which ranked 28th in the league. Near the bottom in bench scoring is nothing to the Celtics who have ranked in the bottom-10 in bench scoring four of the last five seasons.
“We have to figure out guys who best accentuate our best players,” Stevens said. “Everybody in this league has to figure out what they’re good at and how they can impact winning. The older you get, the better you understand that. So, I think that’s a great lesson for not only our young guys who are really good but our other guys competing against them for minutes.”
With this being Stevens’ first time on the management side of the game, one might think he would have to fight the itch to get back into the game of coaching or frequently offer words of advice and tips to Udoka.
“I don’t have any problem with that,” chuckled Stevens. “If he (Udoka) ever needs me he can call, come into my office, whatever the case may be. it is really hard to coach. there’s a lot of things that go into it. The last thing sometimes you need is a lot of opinions. One of the things that can help, you feel supported and you ask questions. If not, you figure it out on your own. it’s OK to go through this journey and figure out some of that, too.”
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