The Boston Celtics, which have significantly underperformed and reeked of mediocrity this season, are limping into the Eastern Conference playoffs as the seventh seed, which also happens to be the top spot in the newly implemented play-in tournament.
And no matter how far the team goes this summer, they'll be without star shooting guard Jaylen Brown, who recently underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist. A major blow for the Celtics, as the 24-year-old was second on the team in points per game (24.7) and minutes (34.5).
Although Boston has made the playoffs in six of the last seven years under head coach Brad Stevens, fingers are always pointed in someone's direction. So, how do the Celtics get out of this precarious position? By making some wholesale changes, according to Stadium basketball analyst Jeff Goodman.
"I feel like a horrible person when I say that the Celtics should move on from Brad Stevens, potentially, because I've known him for so long and I think Brad Stevens is like the best human being in the world," Goodman told CBS Sports Radio's The DA Show on Friday. "This group just doesn't fit well under Brad's system. Either you've got to change your system and the way you play, or if you're [Celtics general manager] Danny Ainge, you better get him some different players. I also think maybe it's run its course. You have to make a move if you're Danny Ainge. You have to do something. You can't go in with the same core group. And to me, he's got to make a significant move. You can't make a minor move. A minor move isn't going to do anything with this team.
"So, the only two scenarios I really see... Because again, you can't trade Kemba Walker. You're going to get 50 cents on the dollar. I would not trade Jayson Tatum for anybody in the game right now not named [Mavericks star] Luka Doncic. I wouldn't. So, what do you have left? Either Brad Stevens, or Jaylen Brown. I'd trade Jaylen Brown in a deal for [Wizards star] Bradley Beal. Celtics fans think I'm crazy. They think, I don't know, Jaylen Brown is Michael Jordan or something... I would do Jaylen Brown and Robert Williams for Bradley Beal and call it a day and be happy...
"What people listening to your show may not realize is that Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum are boys. They went to the same high school. Beal's like a big brother to Tatum. And Beal's more of a ball mover than Jaylen Brown. So, I hate to go away from your original point, which is why Brad Stevens [could be the odd man out], but I think it's one or the other. You've got to do something here. You can't go in with the same group next year if you're Danny Ainge, with the same coach."
The consensus around Boston is that the franchise won't part ways with the 43-year-old Stevens, who reportedly signed a five-year extension last summer and is under contract for the next six seasons. All signs indicate that Stevens doesn't want to leave the Celtics or NBA either, as he recently turned down a seven-year, $70 million offer to become the Indiana Hoosiers' head coach, according to reports.
The Celtics' defensive rating of 112.0 currently ranks 18th in the NBA -- the lowest mark in Stevens' tenure -- while their pace factor (98.98) ranks 20th and their offensive rating (113.1) ranks 10th.
The entire basketball conversation between Goodman and DA can be accessed in the video and audio players above.