WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics were enduring a bit of a rough patch around the midpoint of the 2015-16 season, which is why Brad Stevens was a bit surprised when he was approached about a possible contract extension.
Not even halfway through his original six-year deal, the offer left Stevens feeling more empowered in a profession that he likes to note is thin on job security. The two sides agreed to table those talks until after the season, but it took only a brief conversation to finalize a new long-term extension that will keep Stevens on the Boston bench deep into the future.
The Celtics announced new deals for both Stevens and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge on Wednesday, generating long-term security at two of the most important positions of any basketball organization.
The in-season talks were "during a time when we were weren't exactly lighting the world on fire, so it makes you feel even better about where you are when that happens,” Stevens said. "So after the season, Danny came in and we talked real briefly about it. It's never been much of a question for me. Obviously, I'm flattered to be considered to be here. Then also to get a chance to continue to do it.”
The Celtics made the extension announcement exactly one month before the start of free agency and team brass admitted there's value in continuity and togetherness at the top of an organization. And part of the reasoning behind the extension was to broadcast that Stevens and Ainge were here for the long haul.
Ainge joked that the extension will hopefully end all the speculation about whether Stevens is interested in whatever marquee college basketball job opens next. Despite the fact Stevens has repeatedly stressed he is married to the Celtics until the team does not desire his services any more, his name has swirled in rumors about multiple college hoops positions because of the success he previously enjoyed at Butler University.
"We're lucky to have Brad and [his wife] Tracy with us in a long-term situation. They don't have to answer any more questions about Indiana and Butler, Duke and North Carolina," Ainge said. "We're very excited to have Brad. Who he is and what he does on the court is unmatched. We're grateful he wants to stay with us."
Echoed Stevens: "[College jobs have] never really been a question for me. At the end of the day, the only time it gets brought up is when I get asked about it. I think the biggest thing is [coaching the Celtics] is what I've wanted to do. This was thoroughly vetted out before making this move and one of the things that I've really wanted to do is jump in with both feet. I've said this before: I was a lot more nervous the last time I sat up here right after I'd signed on, because it was really hard to leave a place you really love and that you feel empowered working with people everyday. I've lived leaving that once and I really like where I am. I've been fortunate to be here and I've had no intention of that from the moment I got here."
The 57-year-old Ainge was closer to the completion of his previous deal, so management locked him up first. As Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said on Wednesday, "The idea was to try and keep both of these guys here, and to have Danny say, 'Look, I did it so you have to join me in the swimming pool. Come on in, the water's fine.'"
The Celtics preached the value of patience and stability when they initially attracted Stevens in July 2013. Having Ainge in the fold allowed the team to make a similar pitch to Stevens this time around -- and to do it before he could even consider other possibilities closer to the completion of his original deal.
Stevens said he huddled with his "management team" -- his wife, Tracy, and his children, Brady and Kinsley -- after Boston's season ended with a first-round loss to the Atlanta Hawks. He values their input maybe more than anything else and their desire to further root themselves in Boston made the decision that much simpler.
"They are having as much fun as I am, so that's probably the best answer I could have gotten,” Stevens said.
Stevens' extension was finalized in early May, but the team was able to keep the news quiet until Wednesday's announcement. That's no surprise considering that the Celtics dropped the original Stevens hiring bombshell by sending a simple news release on the evening of July 3, 2013.
Stevens doesn't have to worry about his agent leaking the information. He negotiates deals himself and Tracy, an attorney, handles the paperwork.
"[Tracy is] the reader of the contracts at home. She's been great," Stevens said. "I've never really had an agent, as far as a person that negotiates for me or anything else. I've always felt really good about who I've worked for. And, in the case of the Butler, it was Barry [Collier] and his bosses, our president, and then here with Danny and our owners. So we just have real brief conversations and move forward. It's nice to be in a relationship like that."
Stevens wouldn't divulge the terms of his new deal. Tom Thibodeau recently inked a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves that's reportedly worth $40 million over five years. Stevens, who originally inked a six-year, $22 million deal, said it wasn't important for him to be among the league's highest-paid coaches.
"For me, personally, I've gotten paid more to coach than I ever dreamed I would be,” Stevens said. "I certainly don't take for granted anything and I've got a heck of a deal. And that's good enough. I'm very thankful for that. No, it's not important to be up in the top whatever. That doesn't cross my mind."
Without contracts to worry about, Ainge and Stevens can focus on the primary task of restoring Boston to a championship-caliber squad. Stevens noted Wednesday that the ultimate goal is to fill a blank banner that hangs next to the team's 17 championship banners at the Celtics' practice facility.
Echoed Grosubeck: "[The extension are not] a move for any short-term reasons. This is a move for the future of the Boston Celtics, hopefully for banner No. 18 and beyond."