Prior to the start of the 2018-19 season, the Celtics looked like the “can’t-miss” team. They were dripping with talent. Then that abundance of talent somehow became a problem. And it was hard to believe at first, given this was almost the same exact group that made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals the year before.
Among the few that weren’t caught off-guard by the team’s turbulence at the start of the season was Danny Ainge. He knew Brad Stevens had a challenge on his hands that would require some finesse.
But even Ainge didn’t anticipate the Celtics would have the same chemistry problems over the course of the entire season.
“I knew it’d be difficult from the beginning of the year,” Ainge said. “We talked about that. But I think it was even more difficult than I anticipated and he anticipated. But, again, I think he’s going to be a lot better because of the year that he went through. He’s the least of our worries. We know that he is going to work to become the best he can be and that he’s going to learn from it. I wish every one of our players would put the time and effort and energy and thought into what Brad does.”
And Ainge thinks the fact only two Celtics — one being Al Horford, with whom Ainge hopes to restructure a deal — claimed their jobs all season long was part of the root of the issue.
“It didn’t really ever take where we had a hundred percent buy-in from 100 percent of our players. I did not anticipate that,” he said. “I thought throughout the course of the year guys would figure out their roles. And also, when you go to training camp — I’ve been involved in a lot of training camps over my 40 years where there’s questions to be answered and it becomes really clear that players just take jobs. And they win their jobs and they win their jobs and it becomes really easy decisions. And then there’s years like this year where it was harder.
“Everybody played well at times and not well at times. Nobody really took the jobs, other than Kyrie, who was Second Team All-NBA and was our best player throughout the course of the year and Al Horford. But I feel like that’s why it was a difficult coaching job for Brad. Because those jobs just weren’t clear-cut. Who’s going to finish every game, who’s going to start every game. Those were much more difficult decisions.”
With the Celtics’ season being such a letdown — and the fact they’re surrounded by three other Boston teams that either won a title in the past year or are currently competing for one — it’s easy to doubt Ainge, the player personnel and Stevens. In particular Stevens, since this was the first time there were serious expectations surrounding the team in his reign as coach.
Yet, there’s no room for that in Ainge’s mind. Stevens is still his guy.
“Brad and I talk every day. Things are going great,” Ainge said. “There’s no other coach I’d rather have than Brad. He’s the best.”
Full article @ Brad Stevens is least of Celtics’ concerns in Danny Ainge’s eyes
Source: GreenStreet Blog