Ainge: Celtics players were 'caught off-guard' by shakeup originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens may have planning the Boston Celtics' organizational overhaul for quite some time, but Wednesday's news still surprised their players.
In his final radio appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich" on Thursday morning, Ainge said Boston's players weren't made aware that Stevens was replacing him as Celtics president of basketball operations until after Tuesday night's season-ending loss to the Nets in Brooklyn.
"The players had no knowledge of any of this going on," Ainge said.
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According to Ainge, not even the whole team found out Tuesday night: He broke the news to a handful of Celtics players who stayed in Brooklyn following the Game 5 loss, while the rest were filled in Wednesday.
"They were just caught off-guard," Ainge said when asked how his players took the news. "They were just surprised that any of this was happening. We just talked through it. They'll be fine."
Ainge's comments about how players took the news jibe with what The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Wednesday night on NBC Sports Boston.
"There was a shock, and I'm told from top down within the roster, guys really don't know how to take it," Charania said, as seen in the video above. "They don't know how to feel about the changes immediately, but I think there is an understanding that Brad Stevens made clear as well as the organization that there needs to be a new coach, a new person, a fresh voice to provide accountability and provide a different type of guidance to this roster."
Ainge said Wednesday he made the decision to move on a few months ago, and he and Stevens had regular conversations with Celtics ownership about a succession plan before the team decided that Stevens would fill Ainge's role. That meant Stevens knew Tuesday's game in Brooklyn was his last as head coach but had to keep the news under wraps before Wednesday's announcement.
That a shakeup was coming this offseason after a disappointing 36-36 season isn't surprising, but the nature of the shakeup -- and how quickly it came about -- seemed to come out of left field. Apparently that was true for the players, as well -- and more shakeups are coming as the Celtics search for a new head coach.