Stevens leaves Butler for Celtics

Published on Wednesday, 7/3/13, at 7:45 p.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

During Brad Stevens’s six-year tenure at Butler, he turned down a lot of jobs. In fact, he turned down several great college jobs.

But when Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics came calling, the 36-year-old Stevens couldn’t turn down one of the NBA’s most storied franchises. The organization announced his hiring late Wednesday afternoon.

From the NBA prospective, this is an absolute stunner. I’m talking about a fall out of your chair, pick-your-jaw-up-off-of-the-floor shocker.

You just don’t hire head coaches that have never been on an NBA staff. You don’t hire coaches in their 30s, either.

With that said, I like it. There are exceptions to every rule.

You don’t have to ‘go by the book’ if you think you’re dealing with someone special, and Stevens has an incredible basketball mind. Ainge might take some criticism for this move, but it won’t be because critics doubt Steven’s basketball acumen.

When was the last time a head coach took a mid-major program to the national championship game in back-to-back seasons? Uh, never.

Stevens did it at the age of 33 and 34.

Now ¬†certainly, that doesn’t mean anything in terms of translating to NBA success. But there’s no reason to doubt Stevens can make any transition involving basketball.

I sat two rows behind the Butler bench in New Orleans for a pair of games in the 2011 NCAA Tournament’s South Region semifinals. With inferior talent at the age of 34, he led the Bulldogs past a pair of teams coached by the likes of Bo Ryan and Billy Donovan.

You either have it or you don’t have it. I think Stevens has it.

And there’s no downside for Stevens. Here’s his worst-case scenario: He gets fired but his family is set up for life financially. From there, he becomes a leading candidate for every top college job in America.

Ainge, the Celtics President of Basketball Operations, released this statement. “Brad and I share a lot of the same values. Though he is young, I see Brad as a great leader who leads with impeccable character and a strong work ethic. His teams always play hard and execute on both ends of the court. Brad is a coach who has already enjoyed lots of success, and I look forward to working with him towards Banner 18.”

Stevens will be introduced Thursday in Boston. According to Yahoo Sports Adrian Wojnarowski, Stevens signed a six year, $22 million contract.

Look for former Butler player LaVall Jordan, who is currently an assistant at Michigan, to emerge as the top candidate to replace Stevens. Jordan served on Stevens’s staff for three seasons, including the Bulldogs first team that went to the national finals before losing to Duke.

Jordan played for Butler from 1997-2001. With the Bulldogs leading by one against Florida in the first round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament, he missed a pair of free throws with 8.1 seconds remaining. Moments later, Mike Miller’s buzzer beater lifted the Gators to victory.

Jordan has worked on John Beilein’s staff at Michigan the last three seasons.

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