The Brad Stevens to Indiana rumor mill has been rampant this calendar year, but it’s nothing new.
The oldest search engine result on Google that raised the question of ‘Should Brad Stevens be Indiana’s next head coach?’ has a date stamp of March 2010.
Ever since his back-to-back national championship game appearances at Butler, Stevens manning the sidelines in Assembly Hall in the near future has been a dream scenario for many Indiana fans.
If you’re one of those people, splash some cold water on your face, wake up from your dream and come to your senses.
It’s a fairytale. It’s a fantasy. And it’s way too farfetched to happen in the next two seasons, maybe longer.
One could argue that the stars are aligning for Stevens to make the jump to Indiana.
Yes, Stevens’ Boston Celtics recently traded Rajon Rondo, the team’s best player.
Yes, the Celtics are five games below .500 after finishing with the fourth-worst record in the NBA last season.
And yes, Indiana was picked to finish in the bottom half of virtually every Big Ten preseason poll and in almost every NCAA Tournament projection, the Hoosiers are on the outside looking in.
But the signs that some fans believe lead him from Boston to Bloomington are a mirage.
While Stevens is no longer in Indiana — the state where he was born, raised, attended college and spent 12 years as a coach at Butler — he’s at home in Boston.
SB Nation’s Paul Flannery spoke to Stevens on Dec. 18 before a Celtics practice, where Boston’s coach started shaking his head even before Flannery finished asking him if he wanted to return to the college level.
On Sunday, Flannery wrote about Stevens’ commitment to Boston:
“I’ve committed to being here,” Stevens told me before Thursday’s practice at the team’s facility. “I’ve already left a situation once and that was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to choose to do. This is something that as long as they want me to be here, this is what I want to be doing and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. I know it’s all specific to the rumor mills and the discussion of one spot. I think they’ve got a good coach who’s done a helluva job. He doesn’t deserve that speculation.
“I’m the head coach of the Boston Celtics,” Stevens continued. “This is the job. This is where I am. This is what I want to do really well and I’m committed to being as good as I can every single day for the Celtics.”
Leaving Butler clearly took an emotional toll on Stevens, but it was a necessary move for him to coach the highest level of basketball in the world. Even though Stevens is only 38, if he walked away from the NBA now, or any time soon, his NBA coaching career could very well be over. Bailing on an organization that has supported him contractually and monetarily would rub NBA front offices the wrong way and could confine him to the college ranks for the rest of his life.
Plus, it doesn’t make financial sense. Stevens made roughly $1.2 million at Butler in 2011 before inking a six-year, $22 million contract with Boston. For a man as bright as Stevens, leaving that kind of money on the table would not only be improbable, but foolish.
Unless Stevens gets fired in the near future, which seems highly unlikely given the four-plus years and millions of dollars remaining on his contract as well as Boston’s multitude of upcoming draft picks, there’s no reason for him to leave the Celtics prematurely.
On the Dec. 18 edition of CBSSports.com’s Eye On College Basketball Podcast, the Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy told CBS’ Gary Parrish that while Stevens would walk away with “20 (million) and any college in America that’s close to having an opening will climb over hot coals” to get him, he’s not in position to get fired any time soon.
“If you are an Indiana fan and you want Brad Stevens, you’re better off hanging hanging on to Tom Crean for a while because Brad Stevens is not walking from the money,” DeCourcy said. “He is a bright person. He is not walking away from the challenge or the money.”
Parrish added that Stevens enjoys the NBA lifestyle, which revolves solely around basketball and doesn’t include golf outings, talking to boosters or a weekly radio show that fall under the list of responsibilities of a college head coach.
“It’s not even like he has some desire to come back to college,” Parrish said. He added that Stevens’ wife is reportedly happy in Boston and that Stevens has a good reputation among NBA circles.
Plus, the entire premise of the Stevens to Indiana storyline requires for there to be an opening at head coach in Bloomington. Too many fans are trying to cross a two-way street by only looking in one direction for oncoming cars and they’re missing a tractor-trailer, Crean, that’s picking up speed.
While many Indiana fans have bitter tastes in their mouths for the way the 2012-13 season ended and how the Hoosiers missed postseason play completely last season, Crean has guided his team to as many wins against ranked opponents as the rest of the Big Ten combined this season.
And speaking of the Big Ten, which has been generally regarded as the toughest and deepest conference in college basketball in recent seasons, the conference is wide open after Wisconsin.
With wins over No. 22 SMU, Pittsburgh and No. 23 Butler, Indiana has proven is can beat its peers with an offense that is as high-scoring and as efficient as any in the country. If the Hoosiers can replicate the defense and rebounding they displayed in Indianapolis against Butler, there’s no reason why Indiana can’t finish among the top five teams in the Big Ten, make the NCAA Tournament and silence Crean’s doubters.
Given Stevens’ ties to the state and coaching success up the road from Bloomington, it’s understandable why the hypothetical pairing has received so much attention.
However, such a scenario seems unlikely, if not impossible, for at least the next two seasons given the timing of Stevens’ career arc in Boston and the Hoosiers’ potential in the Big Ten with an offense that is beyond potent in a conference that seems to have taken a collective step backwards.
Dreams may be fun, Indiana fans, but they don’t always come true.