BOZICH: Brad Stevens To The Celtics Won't End Well
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Apparently the Butler Way is also the American Way. Brad Stevens has decided he prefers Rajon Rondo to Alex Barlow at point guard – and a stiffer tax bracket.
Stevens is following the Rick Pitino career path, leaving college basketball (Butler) to coach in the NBA (the Boston Celtics). It positions him perfectly to make his next landing at the KFC Yum! Center, but I don't want to get ahead of the story.
And the story starts with my five reactions to Stevens taking his game to the next level – and walking out on the final nine years of his contract with Butler.
1. This won't end well – except on payday.
I know, I know. Stevens sees a different game than the rest of the slugs in college basketball. He incorporates statistics no other mortal has imagined. He can leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Honk if you've read this College Genius Conquers the NBA Story before – with Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Lon Kruger, Tim Floyd, Leonard Hamilton, Jerry Tarkanian or P.J. Carlesimo playing the lead role.
No need to reach for your calculator. I already have. The combined NBA record of those seven college coaches is 690-1074.
That's a winning percentage of 39.1.
There is a reason Doc Rivers wanted out of Boston. And it wasn't merely Bill Simmons. The Celtics' roster reads like the Maine Red Claws.
2. Keep an eye on Louisville, Duke and North Carolina.
If any of those jobs open, Stevens will be perfectly positioned to replace Pitino, Mike Krzyzewski or Roy Williams. This is a risk-free investment by Stevens. Other than a couple of real estate commissions, Stevens doesn't have anything to lose.
He's only going to increase his name recognition and clout in the media – and nobody has used his clout with the media better than Brad Stevens. The national folks have a slobbering love affair with him. He's never been outcoached -- even when Butler lost to Jim Crews and Saint Louis three times last season. His image is pristine, perfect for one of the prime college openings in the next five years – or less.
If he had jumped for Minnesota or Illinois or even UCLA, he would have been just another college job hopper. Jump for the Celtics and nobody will say he turned his back on Butler and its considerable ambitions.
3. It's the perfect time to leave Butler.
A cynic might suggest that Stevens has already determined that he won't be able to dominate the new Big East the way that he dominated the Horizon League – not with the caliber of players that Stevens recruited to Hinkle Fieldhouse.
We saw that last season, his first in the Atlantic 10. In case you missed it, the Bulldogs finished in a three-way tie for third in that league. Like I said, the Bulldogs lost to Saint Louis three times by an average of more than 10 points per game. Butler exited the NCAA Tournament in the Round of 32.
It's impossible to turn down one of the most prestigious coaching jobs in basketball. I get that. It's also difficult to overlook that beating Georgetown, Villanova and Marquette was going to be a little trickier than dominating Valpo, Cleveland State and Detroit.
4. Rajon Rondo is leaving Boston.
That's a safer bet than a one-word answer from Gregg Popovich.
Rondo clashed with Tubby Smith at Kentucky. He sparred with Doc Rivers in Boston. If Rondo wasn't gaga about doing what Rivers wanted him to do with a Celtics' team chasing a championship, do you really believe he's going to be Mr. Sunshine for a novice coach with a team that won't win 25 games next season?
5. It's amazing what a two-point win over Murray State (2010) and one-point win over Pittsburgh (2011) have meant to Stevens' career.
But Butler's combined victory margin in the Bulldogs' NCAA Round of 32 wins during their Final Four runs was three points.
The ball rolls out, and you're Todd Lickliter. The ball rolls in, and you're John Wooden – coaching the Celtics.
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