The Celtics’ locker room was reportedly dysfunctional throughout the 2020-21 NBA season for a myriad of reasons stemming from friction between head coach Brad Stevens and the players, per The Athletic’s Jared Weiss.
It was reportedly so dysfunctional that when former Pistons forward Blake Griffin asked a Celtics player if he should join the team earlier this season, he was advised not to because of the tension.
Kemba Walker, who was traded to the Thunder Friday, was rumored to be on the move during the offseason. However, once Walker heard of the Celtics’ effort to trade him, it was evident he would not be there long term.
What didn’t help was that Walker and Stevens, were allegedly at odds with each other, and their relationship was characterized as “tension-filled”, per the report. Stevens was harder on Walker, specifically for his defensive mistakes than other players, and reportedly showed favoritism for other top players.
Stevens was reportedly more aggressive with some players after Gordon Hayward left for the Hornets. Hayward allegedly told Stevens that he needed to establish a stronger voice if the team wanted to win.
Walker became more open to playing for another franchise after the team started getting booed at TD Garden for their struggles. The boos reportedly “pissed him off.”
By the end of the season, it reportedly was widely believed the Celtics lost their culture of winning. This was exemplified when Boston players paid no mind to Nets guard and former Celtic Kyrie Irving stomping on the team’s logo.
Players even began to voice their concerns over Stevens’s “college offense” that often left the team’s best players in isolation situations. They began to welcome the idea of a coaching change for Stevens’s favoritism of players and inability to hold some accountable as well, per the report.
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