Mike Zarren Rumors
Whispers in the past week that the N.B.A. coaching grind had begun to wear on Stevens, 44, are the most concerning aspect about the Celtics’ abrupt power shift. The front-office grind can be even more withering. It should help Stevens that the well-regarded assistant general manager Mike Zarren is expected to expand his responsibility and lend considerable guidance.
And with Ainge having stepped aside, it seems Boston’s maneuvering will finally clear the path for assistant general manager Mike Zarren to operate as the Celtics’ lead basketball mind. There’s a belief that Stevens will only nominally outrank Zarren in Boston’s decision-making tree, sources said, and it’s a role Zarren appears more than prepared for.
When Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren came on the Tampering podcast with Denver general manager Tim Connelly in early September, the two executives discussed the unavoidable reality that front office executives will always miss the mark on some prospects. And the Celtics, Zarren explained, were still stinging from that choice to take Johnson over Butler. One is a five-time All-Star who has transformed this Heat team after signing with Miami in free agency in the summer of 2019, and the other played 36 games as a rookie (2011-12) before eventually heading overseas (he currently plays for Bayern Munich in the EuroLeague).
As Butler himself pointed out, though, there was sound reasoning for this choice. Johnson had the superior college career in his four seasons at Purdue, while Butler took the community college route before spending his final three seasons at Marquette.