The Boston Celtics will be hiring a new coach for the 2021-22 season, and a new report makes it sound like an overdue move.
Jared Weiss of The Athletic went into detail on the circumstances that led to Kemba Walker’s trade to Oklahoma City. The story paints a picture of a dysfunctional locker room that had stopped responding to coach Brad Stevens and failed to compete to the previous standards they had set.
The report states that Stevens was perceived to have been tougher on Walker than he was on other players. Other sources said that Stevens was seen as more aggressive with certain players this season, including Walker, who faced strong criticism for defensive mistakes. That helped sour the relationship between the player and coach.
There are also concerns within the organization over the team’s compete level. Guard Marcus Smart is credited with helping create a culture of accountability on defense, but was often ignored by teammates this season. Smart was perceived to be one of Stevens’ favored players, with some in the locker room feeling that Smart was not held accountable the way others were. The lack of response to Smart is also viewed by some as evidence that the “culture of competition” within the organization is eroding. The players’ indifference to Kyrie Irving’s logo stomp is cited as proof of this as well.
Things were bad enough that when Blake Griffin was considering which team to sign with midseason, he was told by one Celtics player not to come to Boston due to the dysfunction.
In a certain sense, it sounds like Stevens’ message had grown stale. That’s understandable, as he had been the team’s coach since 2013. In that sense, it’s no surprise that some reports indicate that Stevens is looking for experience in his replacement. The locker room certainly sounds like it needs a jolt of accountability from whoever comes in.