— BOSTON (AP) — The Green are getting greener.
With aging stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce on their way to the Brooklyn Nets and Doc Rivers already coaching the Los Angeles Clippers, the Boston Celtics hired 36-year-old Brad Stevens from Butler as their coach on Wednesday.
The move turns the tradition-laden franchise over to a mentor who led the Bulldogs to back-to-back NCAA title games but is younger than Garnett and wasn't yet born when Bill Russell won his 11th NBA championship in 1969 (or even when John Havlicek added two more in the 1970s).
It's the first time the Celtics have hired a college coach since Rick Pitino in 1997 and their first coach with no NBA experience of any kind since Alvin "Doggie" Julian, who was hired in 1948 and gave way to Red Auerbach two years later.
"Though he is young, I see Brad as a great leader who leads with impeccable character and a strong work ethic" Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said in a release. "His teams always play hard and execute on both ends of the court. Brad is a coach who has already enjoyed lots of success, and I look forward to working with him towards Banner 18."
The Celtics gave Stevens a six-year deal worth about $22 million, according to a basketball official with knowledge of the deal who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the terms were not public. Ainge met with Stevens at his home in the Indianapolis area along with Celtics owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca and worked out the deal Wednesday morning.
"It's a wonderful opportunity with a historic franchise," Butler President James M. Danko said at an on-campus news conference Wednesday night. "We have done everything we possibly can to keep him. Brad is a very bright, very articulate, and a wonderful, wonderful person who's handled this as well as he's handled everything else you've seen him do."