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NBA not just recycling coaches this offseason, as Celtics' Brad Stevens hire shows

Boston's hiring of a guy who graduated high school the same year as Kevin Garnett supports an interesting trend. NBA franchises aren't going to the same old carousel for coaches.
by Berry Tramel Published: July 4, 2013

Brad Stevens went from Hinkle to Finkel. Went from Butler to Boston. From the Atlantic 10 to the Atlantic Division. From playing Virginia Commonwealth to living in the Massachusetts commonwealth.

Stevens is the new coach of the Boston Celtics, a seat previously occupied by some of the giants of the NBA. Red Auerbach, Bill Russell, Tommy Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, Doc Rivers.

Most of us didn't see coming the Celtics' hiring of Butler University's 36-year-old wunderkind. Who knew that Boston, a franchise so stately that its backup center from 40 years ago, Henry Finkel, remains a household name, would look to historic Hinkle Fieldhouse for a coach?

Some did. I talked to one NBA source Thursday who raves about Stevens and says he'll be a fantastic pro coach.

I don't claim to know. I don't know if Stevens will guide Boston back through the pains of rebuilding or will be the coach at Duke when the Celtics get good again.

But this I know. Boston's hiring of a guy who graduated high school the same year as Kevin Garnett supports an interesting trend. NBA franchises aren't going to the same old carousel for coaches.

Thirteen NBA teams have made coaching changes this offseason. Only four have hired previous NBA head coaches. That's an astounding development for a league that recycles religiously.

In the 2010 offseason, seven NBA teams hired new coaches. Four had NBA head-coaching experience. In the 2011 offseason, eight NBA teams hired new coaches. Six had NBA head-coaching experience.

And that's long been the bent of the league. Chuck Daly, Doug Collins, Jack Ramsay, Bernie Bickerstaff and Paul Silas each coached four franchises. So did Butch Van Breda Kolff, except he also coached an ABA team. Don Nelson coached four franchises, unless you count the Warriors twice.

Minnesota is Rick Adelman's fifth franchise as a head coach. Bill Fitch coached five, too. Alex Hannum coached five, plus two in the ABA. Dick Motta coached five, unless you count the Mavericks twice.

Cotton Fitzsimmons coached six NBA franchises. So did Kevin Loughery, plus one in the ABA. Lenny Wilkens coached six, unless you count the SuperSonics twice. Then it's seven.

And Larry Brown coached nine NBA franchises, plus two in the ABA.

Some of those guys were good, even great coaches. But some were just readily available. Safe picks.

That didn't happen this offseason. While well-established coaches like Lionel Hollins, George Karl, the Van Gundy brothers and Byron Scott remain out of the profession, franchises went looking all over the hoops landscape for coaches.

Memphis hired its own assistant, David Joerger. Others hired promising assistants from elsewhere: Brian Shaw (Denver), Mike Malone (Sacramento), Steve Clifford (Charlotte) and Mike Budenholzer (Atlanta).

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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