I must say, I was a bit shocked when I heard the news that Danny Ainge would be stepping down as the Boston Celtics’ vice president of basketball operations.
Ainge is a Celtics through and through, from helping the Celtics win two NBA titles as a player in the 1980s to winning another as an executives. He is one of the best executives in the league, and used shrewd trades and great drafting to field one of the better young teams in the NBA. He also hired Brad Stevens from Butler, who has turned into one of the better coaches in the league.
Unfortunately, these Ainge-Stevens teams reached its ceiling.
The Celtics reached the Eastern Conference Finals two of the last four seasons, including last year in the bubble. That would be pretty damn good for most teams, but the Celtics are a franchise that’s used to competing for NBA TITLES.
And let’s be real, these Celtics really underachieved this season. A team this talented had no damn business playing an any Play-In tournament for the right to play as the seventh seed.
Maybe Ainge saw the writing on the wall and decided it was time for him to bounce? Word on the street was not only was Stevens getting tired of coaching in the NBA, college teams had made overtures for him to return to the college ranks and the Celtics wanted to keep him by any means necessary.
Either way, I don’t think Celtics fans should be panicking. In fact, I think the Celtics are in a good position going forward.
They have two studs in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who was hurt the last half of the season and missed the playoffs. Kemba Walker is a damn good point guard who will be healthier come next season, and they have Evan Fournier in the fold.
The big question in terms of personnel is what to do with Marcus Smart. Dude is definitely the heart and soul of this squad, but is he worth breaking the bank over?
Another big question: who the hell is gonna coach the Celtics? I’ve heard Jason Kidd and Lloyd Pierce as being the top candidates, but I’d stay the hell away from them if I were in the front office.
I’d give a strong look to Chauncey Billups.
He has strong ties to some of the young players in Boston. He also was drafted by and played for the Celtics the first couple of years in his career. He also has been an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers.
And more importantly, Billups is well-respected around the league.
With Billups coaching those young stars (Tatum and Brown) and that young core along with Stevens bringing his basketball acumen to the front office, I think the Celtics will be just fine.