Celtics

Jared Dudley says he's 'only heard good things' about Celtics coach Brad Stevens

Jared Dudley says he's 'only heard good things' about Celtics coach Brad Stevens

Like many members of the Celtics organization last season, Brad Stevens had a tough time living up to lofty expectations.

After leading the Celtics to the brink of the NBA Finals without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, Stevens was lauded as one of the best coaches in the league. Some even debated how many NBA stars they'd start a franchise with over Stevens, and the list was surprisingly short. As great as Stevens is at building a healthy locker room culture and maximizing players' strengths, the Celtics were plagued by chemistry issues both on and off the court. 

Kyrie Irving may have had a lot to do with the off-court issues, while Gordon Hayward's slower-than-expected recovery from his ankle injury caused many on-court inconsistencies. But usually, when teams don't play up to their potential, the blame falls squarely on the coach. 

While Stevens put the blame on himself after the season ended, Danny Ainge said his head coach was, "the least to blame by far" for the Celtics' shortcomings in 2018-19. What about the players? Has Stevens' reputation taken a hit after seemingly failing to integrate the personalities of a loaded roster?

Jared Dudley, a 12-year NBA veteran said he's, "heard nothing but good things" about Stevens in response to a question on Twitter. 

The full story of what happened to the Celtics last season has not been told yet, but it doesn't seem like Stevens was Boston's main concern. 

Dudley has expressed interest in joining the Celtics once free agency begins on June 30 and now that Aron Baynes has been traded and Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are likely gone, Boston could use Dudley's veteran presence to help mentor the young stars tasked with leading the team now. And don't forget, Dudley has a well-known feud with Philadelphia's Ben Simmons

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Kemba Walker press conference live stream: Watch Celtics introduction online

Kemba Walker press conference live stream: Watch Celtics introduction online

A new era in Boston begins Wednesday.

The Celtics will hold an introductory press conference for Kemba Walker at the Auerbach Center in the point guard's first public appearance since signing a four-year, $141 million maximum contract in free agency.

Walker comes from the Charlotte Hornets with high expectations; the 29-year-old averaged a career-high 25.6 points and 5.9 assists per game last season while earning Third Team All-NBA honors.

Expected to join Walker at Wednesday's press conference are Celtics lead owner and governor Wyc Grousbeck, managing partner and co-owner Stephen Pagliuca, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, team president Rich Gotham and head coach Brad Stevens.

NBC Sports Boston will air the press conference live beginning at 1 p.m. ET, and you can watch a live stream by clicking the link below.

When: Wednesday, July 17, 1 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports Boston

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NBA Rumors: Execs believe this dynamic 'upended' Celtics last season

NBA Rumors: Execs believe this dynamic 'upended' Celtics last season

Why did the Boston Celtics' 2018-19 go off the rails? ... How much time do you have?

Here's the prevailing theory: Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, who both missed the 2017-18 playoffs, struggled to assimilate into a roster that reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals without them, creating deep chemistry issues on a roster supposedly brimming with talent.

According to Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher, executives around the league apparently buy that theory, but more specifically believe the contract structure of the Celtics' most important players also played a role in their demise.

"A player salary structure that doesn't reflect the pecking order in value and contributions can cause dissension," Bucher wrote Tuesday. "Several executives believe that is the dynamic that upended the Boston Celtics last season."

As Bucher points out, Hayward was Boston's highest-paid player last season at $31.2 million but was far from its best player, averaging just 11.5 points per game as he recovered from a serious ankle injury.

Meanwhile, players earning a fraction of that salary on their rookie contracts -- namely Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier -- either outperformed Hayward or believed they could after the success they found in the 2017-18 season.

"In that situation you have Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier making names for themselves and hadn't got paid yet," one "player-turned-executive" told Bucher. "They got a taste of the Eastern Conference Finals, they go seven games, and all of a sudden Kyrie and Gordon Hayward are back the next year and everything changes. It's a tricky situation."

Compensation rarely is an accurate reflection of talent on any NBA roster, as players often get big paydays as a result of success they had while earning less money. (Just ask Rozier.) But Bucher points out that players are "keenly aware" of what their contemporaries make and that disproportionate salaries can affect locker room dynamics.

There obviously were other factors at play for the Celtics last season, but with Kemba Walker coming to Boston on a four-year, $141 million maximum deal, they'll need to set egos aside to avoid more drama in 2019-20.

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