While most believe only championship contending teams can attract an NBA superstar, Celtics coach Brad Stevens believes for Boston -- it's tradition that will play the biggest part in the recruitment process.
Coach Stevens joined WEEI 93.7FM's Dale & Holley on Monday to discuss the upcoming offseason and what it will take for the Celtics to land a top-tier free agent. With the NBA Draft Lottery one week away, the Celtics hope the ping-pong balls will be kind to them and land them a top-3 pick -- where they can draft an impact player.
And for the first time in years, the Celtics will have plenty of cap space -- enough to potentially sign two max-players.
With three seasons under his belt and a good reputation around the league, Stevens says he will do the best he can in trying to recruit players but believes the biggest selling point to join the Celtics will be the franchise's history.
"I'll play an active role. I'll do anything that I can as far as meeting with guys, calling guys, whatever I can after the July 1 time frame when we're given the go-ahead to meet with those guys," Stevens said. "I think the best selling point, I would say that I'm probably not near that. I think that the tradition, the history, the way that the city embraces the Celtics, the way that our players feel about being Celtics, the amount of pride that they've taken in that, and this group in particular, how thankful they've been to get a chance to play in front of these fans and in this place where those banners hang above you -- to me, that's the top of the list."The jury is still out on whether free agents consider a team's legacy when deciding who they want to play for. Just last season, LaMarcus Aldridge left Portland to play alongside Kwahi Leonard, Tim Duncan and the Spurs in hopes of competing for a title, while David West did the same and left $11 million on the table in Indiana for a cheaper deal in San Antonio.
It's been a long time since storied franchises like the Celtics and the Lakers attracted a marquee free agent. However, Stevens is confident that tradition and his as the league's most-storied franchise still means a lot to free agents who may consider signing with Boston.
Recently, newcomers like All-star guard Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Evan Turner have praised the city of Boston and consider it an honor to wear a Celtics uniform.
Turner stated, "It's the best place to play."
But from the outside looking in, players don't know what it's like to play in Boston until they put on a Celtics uniform. Sure, guys like Kevin Durant have praised the city's passion, history and championship banners that hang above the parquet, but even a veteran like Kevin Garnett admitted that he didn't truly understand the way the city embraces the Celtics until he became one.
For a free agent to decide where he wants to play, Stevens knows there's a lot of other factors involved. But as he looks back to three years ago, he says that the Celtics tradition and history is what ultimately led to him accepting his first NBA coaching job.
"I'm a basketball guy; I love the game and I love the tradition and the history and the tradition of the game," Stevens added. "Maybe that just means to me, but I think it means a lot to a lot of people. Certainly there are other factors involved, when ultimately free agents have to choose a place to play, but for me, those were a lot of the things that obviously flattered me about being asked to be the coach here."
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