By Tyler Sullivan Follow on Twitter @TylerSully
The question hasn’t even been asked, but we already know what the answer is: Brad Stevens wouldn’t hesitate to become the new head coach of USA basketball.
“You say ‘yes’ before they get the question out of their mouths,” Stevens told Celtics.com
Mike Krzyzewski is going to leave the program after his team competes in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Then, president of USA basketball, Jerry Colangelo will have a decision to make.
“I plan to, right after hopefully winning another gold medal in Rio in ‘16,” Colangelo told CSNChicago.com back in September on picking a successor to Coach K. He also said that he does have someone in mind, but wouldn’t reveal who that is.
It’s no secret that Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich are the likely frontrunners for the position with guys like Tom Izzo possibly getting a looks from the college game. While those coaches would be fine choices, Brad Stevens would be the right selection for USA basketball.
According to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports, there are three criteria needed to be a candidate for the USA basketball head coaching gig.
1.) Players have to want to play for him.
2.) They have to be good at Xs and Os, and not wed to one system.
3.) He has to be above the petty politics of agents and shoe companies.
Stevens meets these requirements with flying red, white and blue colors. Since coming to the Celtics, we’ve seen his ability to make in game adjustments and given the roster turnover over the last few years, he’s shown the ability to adjust his style with the players he’s given. He also doesn’t take any BS.
“[Hiring Stevens] would be amazing,” said Marcus Smart, when talking to Celtics.com. Smart, who has been in the USA Basketball program since he was 17, also said “I respect Brad to the fullest. I think everybody in this league respects Brad and understands how good of a coach he is.”
And he’s not wrong. If you remember back in April after the Celtics were swept by the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James had high praise for the C’s head coach.
“I highly respect their coaching staff and especially their head coach,” James said. “A very well-coached team, he put those guys out there every night and put them in position to win the game and I think Brad Stevens is a very good young coach in our league.”
That’s quite the compliment coming from the face of todays NBA.
What could this means for the Celtics?
Honestly, I don’t see a negative. Stevens would gain valuable coaching experience playing in high stakes, playoff like, games and continue to grow as a coach.
It could also help the Celtics land a big time free agent in the coming years. With USA Basketball, Stevens would be front and center to the NBA’s best and brightest. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that one of those players could like playing under Stevens and want to do it for the Celtics. It’s a little different, but USA Basketball is basically the birthplace of Miami’s big three with James, Wade and Bosh.
The only risk that I could foresee is that there could be a reverse effect where Stevens sees the talent around the NBA and, like Doc Rivers during an All-Star Game a few years back, could be asked to join whatever team the star is on. It’s unlikely, but you never know.
Regardless, Stevens, at only 39 years old, would be an ideal candidate to carry the torch from Coach K and continue the success of USA basketball.
We already know the answer, now we just need the question to be asked.