For the Boston Celtics, summer 2021 was a transformational offseason, especially for the president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, who was granted the challenging job of reconstructing a roster in dire need of a shakeup.
After making a series of moves, this summer, including trades and free-agent signing, Stevens recently inked Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, and Josh Richardson, to respective contract extensions. Smart added four years, $77 million to his deal.
The latest Celtics news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Celtics newsletter here!
Celtics’ Brad Stevens: ‘Feel Really Good About Where We Are’
Williams, who also extended his deal by four years, added $54 million to his name just before the newly acquired Richardson tacked on an additional year, worth $12.4 million, to his initial one-year agreement. Stevens, who recently joined the NESN/WEEI Jimmy Fund Telethon, Tuesday, opened up about his offseason moves and shared his vision for the upcoming 2021-22 campaign.
“As you look across the league, I feel really good about where we are now,” Stevens said, per WEEI’s OMF. “I think we can be a good basketball team but I think we can also continue to build and hopefully, get what we all want.”
One of the more crucial trades Stevens made over the past two months was dealing for former Celtics All-Star Al Horford — which meant waving goodbye to Kemba Walker, who inked a max deal with Boston two years prior. But, that’s how quickly things change in the NBA.
Celtics Trade Kemba Walker, Acquire Dennis Schroder
Walker suffered from a knee injury in 2019 that never fully healed. A stem cell injection in 2020 didn’t help as much, either. The Celtics saw flashes of the perennial All-Star scorer Walker once was before the injury but it wasn’t enough for Stevens to believe in for the next two seasons.
“Trading Kemba right off the bat was not fun and not an easy thing to do,” Stevens said, per WEEI’s OMF. “But, obviously, the opportunity to get Al back and some of the things that it opened up to be able to do here as we try to build toward the future — it was just part of it.”
One of those “things” was signing Los Angeles Lakers free agent Dennis Schroder to a one-year, $5.9 million deal — one of the better team-friendly contracts around the league. There’s plenty of value in that signing.
Celtics’ Brad Stevens: ‘I Don’t Put Ceilings on Teams’
However, Stevens isn’t setting any high expectations for the 2021-22 Celtics. In fact, similar to what Danny Ainge used to do to Brad prior to the start of a regular season, Stevens isn’t setting a bar for Ime Udoka.
“I don’t put ceilings on teams. You guys get paid to do that,” Stevens said. “All I do is within where we are and how we are trying to balance the short term of this year’s team and being a really good team versus continuing to move forward. We’re in a good spot because our foundational pieces are young and under contract. We want to be good. We have a lot of good players, a good coach; a good staff.
“I have no doubt they are going to be good. How good will depend on all of those things.”
The Celtics will begin their preseason schedule against the Orlando Magic, October 4.