Locking in another pair of Boston Celtics’ homegrown talents in Marcus Smart and Robert Williams, this summer, Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has created stability for the franchise’s near future.
The first pair? The then-president of basketball operations Danny Ainge’s draftees Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown; both of whom, respectively, have blossomed into bonafide All-Stars who are potentially on the cusp of ascending into two of the NBA’s top-10 talents.
The latest Celtics news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Celtics newsletter here!
Brad Stevens’ 2021 Celtics Offseason Moves
This much we knew before the start of what turned out to be a tumultuous offseason — which was headlined by Stevens’ promotion to the front office and a new head coach in former San Antonio Spurs assistant Ime Udoka. However, the bevy of moves made via trade, free agency signings, and in-house contract extensions has positioned the Celtics to compete against the likes of the best teams in the East while Stevens is compiling one tradable contract after another.
While some Celtics fans don’t want to hear the likelihood of seeing Brad package players such as Smart, Williams, Josh Richardson, and future first-round picks into a deal for a perennial All-Star, the option is very much still in the cards. In fact, Stevens could pull the trigger on such a move as soon as the following calendar year — January 2022.
The NBA’s 2022 free-agency class is headlined by Washington Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal and Chicago Bulls’ All-Star Zach Lavine. While the childhood friendship tied between Beal and Tatum has led to speculation that the two are destined to play alongside one another, the Celtics wouldn’t be able to sign Beal next summer, outright.
But, in a sign-and-trade, Boston could turn out to offer the best trade package for young talent and team-friendly deals. Stevens’ latest contract extension — Richardson’s one-year, $12.2 million for 2022-23, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania, pays the six-year veteran $24 million over the next two seasons.
Not too shabby for a defensive specialist who scores in double figures on a nightly basis. And, it’s also the kind of deal that can sponge salary in a trade for a superstar who’s currently making more than Brown and Tatum.
Will The Celtics Need a Third ‘Star’?
Maybe the proverbial third “star” that some Celtics fans are salivating over is already on the roster. Or, maybe not.
Either way, clearing cap space for a deal or no deal sitdown between either Beal or LaVine would have been foolish. That’s a surefire way to end up with nothing before backpedaling into vigorous contract negotiations with players like Smart (27) and Williams (23); who are two of your brightest stars on binding ends of the pre-to-mid prime year spectrum.
Both players willingly accepted team-preferred contract extensions well before hitting the market — which was a smart way of conducting business.
This way, the Celtics can compete with not only a deep and talented roster but one equipt with a core that consists of an All-Star tandem, an established veteran, and a promising 23-year-old big man; all of whom are on a preferred timetable and offer some flexibility for Stevens down the road.