Celtics Rumors: Players Frustrated with Brad Stevens' Communication Style

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2019

Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens speaks about the NBA basketball team's draft picks Thursday, June 20, 2019, during a news conference in Boston. The Celtics selected Romeo Langford with the 14th pick as they look to fortify a roster facing massive uncertainly with free agency looming. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Brad Stevens is regularly mentioned as one of the best tactical coaches in basketball, but it's possible his bedside manner could use a little work.

According to NBA writer Sean Deveney, Stevens' communication style may have alienated players in the past:

"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.'"

ESPN's Jackie MacMullan also reported that Stevens' "force feeding" of Gordon Hayward back into the starting lineup last season following his recovery from a broken leg contributed to Boston's chemistry issues (via Michael DePrisco of NBC Sports):

"You hate to pick on Gordon Hayward because he was coming back from injury and he was doing the best he could, but I really think that's where it started. They were force feeding him on his teammates, Brad [Stevens] knew Gordon well, he wanted to get his confidence back.

"I would contend that Brad Stevens would have done that for any player on that roster that had a catastrophic injury, he would want to fill him with that same confidence, but that's not what happened. He gave the benefit of the doubt over and over to a player that wasn't ready, to a guy who had history with him, and it rankled that locker room, and it bothered that locker room."

In the process, the Celtics went from being a title contender before the season to watching those chemistry issues contribute to a second-round ouster against the Milwaukee Bucks. And the issues appear likely to permeate the offseason, too, with Kyrie Irving and Al Horford reportedly set to sign elsewhere and the future of restricted free agent Terry Rozier up in the air. 

Before Boston fans panic, however, the agent who spoke to Deveney added that the Celtics "have money, they want to win, they have a good organization. You'd like the lines of communication to be better, but that would not keep any of my players from signing there."

That could mean players such as Kemba Walker or free-agent center Nikola Vucevic could yet consider the Celtics. And regardless, the C's still have a promising young duo in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, to go with veterans Hayward and Marcus Smart. 

But the Celtics, as of now, don't appear to be title contenders. Given the disastrous 2018-19 campaign, the entire organization will have to do some soul searching this summer to avoid a repeat performance. That includes the highly regarded Stevens.

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