Boston Celtics

Nov 19, 2018; Charlotte, NC: Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving talks with head coach Brad Stevens in the first half against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center. (Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt Dolloff,

In the wake of the Celtics’ disappointing season and impending departure of both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, the No. 1 target of angry observers is easily Irving himself. But it’s also possible that head coach Brad Stevens played a role in the team’s chemistry problems.

It’s a fair question to ask. The Celtics’ problem this past season wasn’t talent. For whatever reason, the mix was toxic and Stevens ostensibly didn’t do enough to hold it together. It’s often the biggest task for a head coach to manage personalities and player expectations.

According to NBA writer Sean Deveney in a new report on his Facebook page, multiple players and agents have said that Stevens has room for improvement in the communication area. To be clear, his most prominent player source made such a comment “a couple of years ago”, but he also cites “players and agents”, implying that he’s heard this from more than one person.

From Deveney’s post:

“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.”

So to be fair, the same problems didn’t necessarily exist with Stevens and the 2018-19 team. But it’s easy to connect the dots here. When a team underachieves relative to their talent level, the coaching staff should at least be somewhat culpable. Stevens has become known for getting the most out of his players over his time as Celtics head coach, but the 2018-19 season was curiously backward in that regard.

Stevens is no doubt an excellent strategist on the basketball court and has plenty of qualities that you want in a head coach. But if the players and agents mentioned in Deveney’s report are to be believed, then he could stand to get better when it comes to managing the people in his locker room. That may need to happen if he wants to help the Celtics get to the next level.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at