Brad Stevens has made a surprise move to leave Butler University to become the head coach of the Boston Celtics. The 36-year-old Stevens will officially be announced as the team’s 17th head coach on Friday and will immediately start the rebuilding process in Boston.
While Stevens has had an unprecedented rise as a college basketball coach, leading mid-major Butler to back-to-back NCAA title games, his future success in the NBA is already being questioned.
During Wednesday’s SportsTalk Live on Comcast SportsNet Chicago, host David Kaplan and his panel debated if Stevens would find success in his new role with the Celtics.
“It has bust written all over it,” Chicago Sun-Times writer Mark Potash said.
Others on the panel were surprised the Celtics went with a college coach, knowing the past struggles by so many coaches who have made the leap to the NBA.
“You bring in a coach when it’s a complete rebuild and you don’t have a roster, you’re going to get hammered,” Frank Osowski of Harry Caray’s Tavern said. “You have to know the NBA. This sounds like something with [Rick] Pitino. He got booted out and went back to college. [Stevens] is a tremendous college coach, you haven’t seen him at the NBA level.”
One of the most interesting topics was whether or not Stevens could manage the egos of the multimillionaire players on his roster.
“He’s going to end up coaching players he would have never recruited,” Potash said. “It’s going to be a totally different world. I’m not saying it will not work out. I’m just saying I’m very skeptical, because we’ve seen this happen before.”
Kaplan was the only panelist to applaud the hire.
“If we are blessed enough to sit in these seats five years from now you’re going to look back and go, ‘What a great hire the Celtics made,'” Kaplan said. “I love this guy.”
[RELATED: Bulls bench to have completely new look]
SportsTalk Live guest Jerry Riles argued that Stevens wouldn’t even be with the Celtics in five years and questioned the in-game management skills of the young head coach.
“What type of decisions will he be making?” Riles asked. “From the college rank to the professional rank, it’s a whole different animal.”
Stevens turned down an opportunity to coach at UCLA earlier this year, but now will be tested at the next level after Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has decided to take the organization in a new direction. Boston traded Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets to free up salary cap space and sent former head coach Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers before the NBA Draft in order to acquire draft picks. Point guard Rajon Rondo, one of the few remaining stars on the team, is expected to be sidelined for the start of the 2013-14 season after partially tearing the ACL in his right knee in late January.