By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When a team has as disappointing of a season as the Boston Celtics just had, no one can escape criticism. That includes a head coach once viewed as the NBA’s boy wonder.
While Kyrie Irving is receiving the bulk of the blame for Boston’s downfall in 2018-19 (and rightfully so), Brad Stevens is now in the crosshairs thanks to a post by NBA reporter Sean Deveney. Wondering why Irving and Al Horford appear destined to leave a once great situation in Boston, Deveney writes that a veteran player from a few years ago and an anonymous agent have “griped” about Stevens’ communication skills with his players.
A veteran player told me a couple of years ago that his role in Boston was tough because he was never really told what was expected of him and that Stevens didn’t necessarily connect with players. That appeared to be the case this season, too, when the Celtics had a chemistry meltdown and Stevens could not rein in his locker room.
One agent told me, “Most players don’t need their hands held, but they want to know where they stand and what they need to do. That’s not always coming from Stevens and it can be frustrating.”
Deveney writes that the agent also said that those communication issues won’t keep clients from signing in Boston, which is great news considering the Celtics could use a free agent splash this summer.
Anonymous quotes are always a little suspect (and lame), especially considering we don’t know when this veteran player felt the communication was lacking. If this was from Stevens’ first season or two in Boston, as he was learning the pro game and how to deal with professional athletes, it’s an understandable gripe for both sides. If Kris Humphries or David Lee had issues with Stevens in his first few years on an NBA bench, it’s a little different than Irving or Horford voicing these issues.
Players have voiced some occasional displeasure with Stevens’ rotations in the past, so this is really nothing new. If this is out there now, then Stevens has probably been well aware of the issues for some time. He admitted after Boston’s disappointing postseason ousting by the Milwaukee Bucks that he had a bad year and vowed to be better next season. Better communication with players will likely be part of it.