They all came to coach in Kentucky after disappointing NBA gigs.
Okay, so Brad Stevens isn’t there yet, and he might be one of the exceptions to the general rule that college coaches don’t fare too well in the pros, but it’s always a risky move. This list documents that pretty well, and includes some names you may have forgotten tried to make the NBA work for them. Remember when Billy Donovan was head coach of the Orlando Magic for like a day and a half? And CBS has a pretty similar list of guys who thought they could handle it.
Particularly, at the end of their dismal predictions, CBS had a note that might be relevant for Kentucky fans:
Worst-case scenario? He can always go back to college. And no matter what he does in the NBA, just about every program available would take him.
So, depending on how Stevens does, is it too early to consider the “Brad Stevens to UK” bandwagon open for seating? What are the factors we need to consider?
–Cal’s got as long as he wants at UK. Let’s be real, as long as he wants to be the coach, we want him here. Bottom line. He’s done so well in his four years that we’d be crazy to ask for anybody else. The Tubby situation was a little different; he peaked early and declined pretty consistently through his tenure. Cal came on strong, and has only gotten better. So, as long as he keeps signing contracts, we’ll keep going to games.
–Stevens might fail too early, or too late. Timing is everything in the coaching world, and Brad Stevens knows that. He held off on offers from college suitors like NCAA, knowing that the right opportunity would come. And apparently, it did. But assuming he leaves the Celtics (which might or might not happen), will it be at a time when Kentucky is ready to bring him in? This is sort of in line with the above point–Cal’s here as long as he wants. But what about the next guy? If Stevens is in Boston for 6, 7 years, will UK be in a position to hire him?
–Is Stevens the right fit for UK? This is what you’ll probably hear the most argument about from anybody discussing the topic. Stevens clearly has a very different approach than Coach Cal, but he’s also been very successful with it. But can he copy that success in Lexington? BCG didn’t work because he didn’t like the spotlight. Will Stevens? Safe to say if he handles the scrutiny in Boston (which is pretty crazy about basketball, too), he should be just fine in Kentucky. But will his coaching style fit? Can and will he recruit at the same type of level? And if he doesn’t, will Kentucky fans be happy with recruiting classes outside the top ten? Even if he’s successful with it, it might make the offseason a little bit more boring. After the year-round excitement of the Calipari Era, could we accept that?
This is all obviously hypothetical. There’s no telling how Stevens will do with the Celtics, and no way to know if he’d be willing to come to Kentucky. But if he does end up leaving the Celtics, both Pitino and Cal are proof that Northeastern NBA coaches can be successful, and win championships at UK. So, in 2019… Brad Stevens come on down?