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Several Celtics players wanted a coaching change, felt Brad Stevens favored a certain player

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 22: Head coach Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics congratulates Marcus Smart after he scored a basket against the Brooklyn Nets in Game One of the First Round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center at Barclays Center on May 22, 2021 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

If there were one word to describe the Boston Celtics’ 2020-21 campaign, it would be disappointing. The Celtics finished the regular season at .500, 36-36, and made the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed. The Brooklyn Nets eventually eliminated the Celtics in five games in the first round of the playoffs. After the underachieving season, many Celtics players wanted a coaching change.

According to The Athletic’s Jared Weiss, sources close to the players noted, “Stevens did not appear to hold key players accountable,” and he was “favoring Marcus Smart over others.”

Marcus Smart has been with the Celtics since 2014 and is the heart and soul of the team. He plays hard every possession and is a great defensive player, and hits big shots. Smart is liked in the locker room, but guys would get frustrated if Stevens showed him preferential treatment repeatedly.

Brad Stevens has been the Celtics head coach for eight years, taking over after Doc Rivers departed. He has made the playoffs every year except his first year. They have been close to making an NBA Finals, losing three times in the Conference Finals while he was head coach. After losing in the first round this year, some Celtics players wanted a coaching change.

The transition

Danny Ainge stepped down from his role as President of Basketball Operations, and Stevens transitioned into that role. Stevens is already making moves. His first move was trading Kemba Walker and the 16th pick in the draft to the Thunder for Al Horford, Moses Brown, and a 2023 draft pick. Walker is a great player, but his large contract holds them back, and the fit was not ideal.

Brad Stevens and the Celtics front office have narrowed their search for their next head coach to three candidates. Los Angeles Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, Milwaukee assistant Darvin Ham, and Brooklyn’s Ime Udoka are getting second interviews. The Celtics are likely heading in the direction of one of those three.

On the bright side for the Celtics, Jayson Tatum has emerged into superstar status in the NBA. His running mate Jaylen Brown also had a great season, but injuries cut it short. Those two are great young foundation pieces to build around. With a few more tweaks to the roster, the Celtics should be in a position to make some noise in the Eastern Conference playoffs next year.

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