After coaching the Celtics for eight seasons, Stevens approached the business side of the NBA, this summer, at the helm of the front office, and kicked things off by trading away Boston’s four-time All-Star point guard Kemba Walker.
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Celtics’ Brad Stevens: Trading Kemba ‘Was Not Fun’
Stevens, who joined the NESN/WEEI Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, Tuesday, talked about what factored into his decision to trade Walker. And, how hectic his summer’s been due to his new position.
“It’s been a great challenge,” Stevens said on WEEI’s OMF during the NESN/WEEI Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon. “The first couple weeks were like drinking out of a fire hose, and then it slowed down after hiring Ime (Udoka). And then, right before the draft and free agency, right back to it. The salary cap is no joke, and as much as I’ve been around it for the past eight years, I’m really lucky I have the people that are working here:
“The Mike Zarrens, the Austin Ainges, and everybody else in our front office that does such a great job, that I can lean on for any question I didn’t have the answer to.”
However, when Stevens decided it was time for Boston to move on from its starting point guard, he didn’t need anyone’s help in making his first official trade as the Celtics president of basketball ops.
“There are a lot of things that go into each and every decision,” Stevens explained. “Trading Kemba right off the bat was not fun and was not an easy thing to do but obviously the opportunity to get Al (Horford) back and some of the things that it opened up to be able to do here as we try to build towards the future — it was just part of it.”
Brad Stevens: ‘This Business is Unlike College’
Unlike his days at Butler University, where Stevens, as head coach of the Bulldogs, grew closer to his players after years of working with one another, NBA trades happen quickly and are often unexpected.
It’s a business — one where practices and a particular method can force an organization to sever ties with its star players quicker than anyone anticipated.
“This business is unlike college,” Stevens said. “Where you usually have guys together for four years and that relationship usually expands a total of six years, that’s not always the case (in the NBA). When we are fortunate to have guys to draft, grow, watch them enhance themselves on and off the court and extend them; that’s a pretty special feeling.”
New York Knicks Introduce Kemba Walker
“Perfect timing. Really motivated. Super excited that these guys have belief in me,” Walker said during his introductory press conference, per MSG. “That’s all I need. I just need somebody to believe in me. These guys do, and I appreciate that.”
Walker quickly clarified his response wasn’t a shot at the Celtics organization.
“I definitely felt like Boston believed in me,” Walker explained. “But they traded me. But, yeah, that’s not the case. I don’t feel like they didn’t believe in me.”