Over the years, the Eastern Conference has caught up to the Western Conference in terms of having talented players and phenomenal teams. While franchises like the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Atlanta Hawks are all improving, the same cannot be said for the Boston Celtics.
Despite being one of the most historically relevant teams, the Celtics in the modern era haven't achieved anything commendable. Currently, the organization has put all its hopes on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Unfortunately, with each passing day, it seems that they might need to choose one player between them.
The most recent example was Boston's defeat at the hands of the Chicago Bulls. Although they had a huge lead at one point in the game, they simply blew it. There were multiple reasons for this defeat, but as per Marcus Smart, it was Tatum and Brown's decision to not pass the ball up more often.
Following this embarrassing defeat, it has led to many questions: what is wrong with the Celtics? Is it the current team, or the franchise as a whole, prone to issues? Well, if you are to believe Celtics reporter Jared Weiss, these issues are not new.
In a detailed article about the Celtics' performances and troubles regarding performing in the postseason, he talked about a plethora of incidents.
Was Brad Stevens A Bad Presence In The Locker Room?
Up until the last season, Brad Stevens was the head coach of the Celts. During his tenure as a coach, the team showed signs of stardom, but could never really get past the final hurdle during the playoffs. During his stint as a coach, Stevens coached the team for 8 seasons and had a 55.7 winning percentage.
Now you might wonder, then what was the issue with his coaching? Well, according to Weiss, Stevens and Kemba Walker weren't on the best of terms.
"According to multiple team sources, there was some dysfunction in the locker room, with the relationship between Stevens and Walker characterized as tension-filled. Sources also suggest that Stevens was also perceived to be harder on Walker than on other top players.
Walker came to the Celtics in hopes of winning an NBA Championship. Previously, he was part of the Charlotte Hornets, who were honestly never even in the conversation of contending for a title during Walker's time. Even though he came to Boston to increase his chances of winning a championship, they did not improve.
He spent two years with the franchise before moving on to the next step of his career, which is the New York Knicks. Apart from Walker, many other players were also unhappy with Stevens' aggressive nature towards a few players as per Weiss.
"Several team sources felt Stevens was more aggressive with certain players this season, which included Walker who was criticized for his defensive mistakes. Those sources said Walker and Stevens began to butt heads, though the pair were considered to have a productive working relationship and mutual respect for one another."
To make things worse, the report also revealed that Stevens was biased towards Marcus Smart. This, of course, made some players uncomfortable being low in the pecking order despite how well they might play.
"At season’s end, multiple sources close to the players said several members of the locker room were welcoming a coaching change, noting Stevens did not appear to hold key players accountable, with complaints he was favoring Smart over others."
It was no surprise that when Stevens took on the responsibilities of Celtics' President of Basketball Operations, he traded away Kemba. In fact, this was his very first action when coming into power.
Even if Walker could have played through all this, there was something else that pissed him off.
"Walker maintained his professionalism throughout the season but his health issues, the team’s poor performance and boos from TD Garden fans — something that particularly “pissed him off,” according to multiple sources — made him sour on his situation in Boston and had spoken privately about being willing to move to a new team. It had become clear he was not going to be in the team’s long-term plans."
It is quite obvious now that the Celtics were having a lot of internal troubles, which of course had an impact on their chances of getting new players to the team. Apparently, Blake Griffin was linked to Boston but decided not to pursue this move. There was a pretty solid reason behind his sudden change of heart.
"The Celtics' dysfunction reached the point that Blake Griffin asked a friend on the roster if he should sign midseason & was warned to stay away. This came in the wake of Gordon Hayward’s departure, after which sources said Hayward told Stevens he needed to establish a stronger voice with players if they were going to win.
Combining all the above-mentioned things, it can be gathered that the Celtics' culture is not great for nurturing players.
If a team wants to contend for a title in the NBA, everyone needs to be on the same page. Moreover, the players, the coach, and the management should be in sync as well. As things stand right now, there is no way this is the case.
Maybe the team will learn from its mistakes and make amends soon. If they do not, it is hard to see one of the most historic franchises in the league winning a ring anytime soon.