Big changes are already happening for the Boston Celtics, and these three players won’t be back next season.
The Boston Celtics exited the playoffs with a Game 5 loss to the Brooklyn Nets Tuesday night, and changes are already coming. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge will step down, and head coach Brad Stevens will move up to the front office to take the long-time executive’s place.
The Celtics made three trips to Eastern Conference Finals in Stevens’ eight seasons as head coach, but they never got over the top to win the conference or an NBA title. The pieces around young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have never quite worked (Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward), and the Celtics have been a consistent periphery suitor for big names (Anthony Davis, as an example).
For any fault Celtics’ fans want to find with Stevens as a coach, there’s no denying he knows the players on the roster. He can now take a 10,000-foot view from a post in the front office, presumably with full authority to make big changes if he sees fit and can get it done.
Finding a new coach is first on Stevens’ agenda in his new role. But as he takes a survey of the roster, these three players won’t be back next season.
3. Evan Fournier probably won’t be back for the Celtics
Boston acquired Fournier from the Orlando Magic at the trade deadline, on the idea he’d be a secondary scorer and shooter. But he went 0-for-10 from the floor in his Celtics debut, then played three games before missing close to three weeks due to a bout with COVID-19.
In 16 regular-season games for the Celtics, with his missed time due to COVID an important factor, Fournier averaged 13.0 points per game. Over a full season, that would’ve been his lowest scoring mark since his third season in the league (2014-15 with Orlando).
Fournier is a free agent, and the Celtics won’t have a lot of cap space to play with. A possible rental that didn’t work out that well, he will be plying his trade as a secondary scorer elsewhere next season.