Ainge, Stevens Signings Boost C's Stability, Allure
WALTHAM, Mass – The Boston Celtics are looking to become a top destination for free agents this summer and for years to come.
On Wednesday, the organization took a giant step toward reaching that goal by extending the contracts of president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens.
The long-term commitment to Ainge and Stevens is a sign of internal stability, which Ainge says is an important drawing factor for players around the league.
“I think stability makes a lot of sense to free-agents-to-be and players that we draft,” Ainge said Wednesday afternoon while sitting at a podium alongside Stevens, managing partner, governor and CEO Wyc Grousbeck and managing partner Steve Pagliuca at the team’s training facility in Waltham, Mass. “It makes players more comfortable in understanding what’s happening.
“I think it’s a troubling environment in some organizations where coaches are on the hot seat and become distractions. I think there are no distractions [here] and that’s very important.”
Grousbeck and the ownership group made the decision to extend both contracts not only to reward Ainge and Stevens for their superior work, but also to ensure the franchise’s solidarity as it looks ahead to the future.
He also noted that the team recently announced its plan to build a new, state-of-the-art practice facility in Brighton, and that the ownership has also redone the contracts of many of its employees on the business operations staff.
“We’re taking steps to just make sure this organization, as it moves forward, is completely in tune and rock solid as we prepare to really build this thing,” said Grousbeck. “We want to be contenders.”
A major key to building a championship contender is to have organizational continuity. That’s what the Celtics are attempting to establish, and it’s something that Stevens sensed when he signed his first contract with the team three summers ago.
“When you ask around the league, one of the things that’s very obvious to other coaches or people in leadership situations is that this place really values continuity,” said Stevens. “And they really value their people.”
Pagliuca added that when talking with players around the league, he senses that they “respect the solidarity and continuity that they’ll have when they come to the franchise.”
He added, “The combination of the fantastic facility, a very stable staff and this continuity with great people at the helm is great for everybody, and I think it really is a great thing for recruiting free agents.”
It also draws in the right type of players – team-oriented, selfless guys who embrace Celtics tradition and display solidarity on the court.
That’s the type of team that Stevens says he wants to be a part of for the foreseeable future.
“Something that I’ve been really thankful for is the opportunity to be able to work with guys that care about putting this uniform on,” said Stevens. “Guys that care about all that comes with it – they take it and see it as a responsibility – and knowing we all share that.”
Stevens then gazed across the gym and nodded toward a pair of banners hanging high on the wall. One was Boston’s 2008 championship banner, and the other was blank.
“We want to strive to compete, ultimately to fill in that blank banner up there,” he said. “There’s a lot of good fortune that has to accompany that along the way, but to get a chance to work with people you really enjoy working with is the best part of that journey.”
Ainge, who is no stranger to hanging green and white banners, confirmed that establishing tight-knit relationships within the organization is a primary step in seeking title contention.
“It’s been a wonderful work environment,” said Ainge. “I have a great relationship with our ownership and with coach Stevens, and I just feel like we’re building a stronger and stronger trust year-in and year-out.
“And the longer that we work together, I really believe great things are going to happen.”
Ainge and Stevens will carry that mindset forward for many years to come as they look to raise Banner 18. Now it’s time to see who else is willing to jump on board for the journey.