Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens tried every which way to mold the 2020-21 Celtics into a championship contender. The ending called for change and now Stevens, who from the helm of the front office, has architect a foundation that he’s confident will flourish.
Self-deprecation in itself is one’s own criticism in its modest form. But, when Stevens relayed that an upgrade at the head coaching position was a must for the Celtics, it didn’t come as a surprise, this summer.
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Celtics’ Brad Stevens: ‘Obviously, We Improved On Coaching’
Stevens took the brunt of the Celtics’ lows on the chin throughout the course of Boston’s rollercoaster-like .500 regular-season (36-36).
“Obviously, we improved on coaching,” Stevens said during his media availability, this week. “And, we added a couple of really good players and so I’m excited about this year’s group, and one of the things Danny (Ainge) always did a really good job of; is he didn’t ever try to put a ceiling on us and I would never try to do that with this year’s group. We certainly feel good about the group as we head into the year and also look forward to what we’re going to be able to do down the road.”
Celtics Extend Marcus Smart, Robert Williams
After trading with the Oklahoma City Thunder for former All-Star Al Horford, Stevens replaced Kemba Walker with a gem in Dennis Schroder and addressed the wing position by adding 3-and-D veteran Josh Richardson, and re-committing to one of his own in Marcus Smart.
“Obviously, we want to be a good team. I think we’ve been fortunate to add some guys that can really play,” Stevens said during his media availability, Thursday. “I think that’s a positive and I think that we’re in a good position from the big picture standpoint.”
Smart, whose deal isn’t official yet, agreed to a four-year, $77 million contract extension, is expected to become the Celtics’ newest permanent starting point guard.
“I can’t comment on some of the stuff that you said about Marcus, yet. But, obviously, you know what Marcus has meant to win here,” Stevens added. “And, I think that that’s been very obvious that ever since he’s been here we have been a good basketball team. I think that last year, with all the different injuries and the uniqueness of the season; I do think that that team was a little better than the way we played.”
That’s what made gauging Celtics center Robert Williams’ value to the team so difficult but Brad did it anyways, extending the 23-year-old center to a four-year, $54 million deal — which gives the Celtics, what’s essentially at least a four-year window with the core of Tatum, Brown, Smart, and Rob at starting center. Smart, 27, the elder statesman, who is in the midst of his prime years, leads a Celtics core all positioned to hit their respective primes between now and the next two seasons.
For Stevens, witnessing the 2021-22 Celtics reach their full potential is still a work in progress. However, he’s confident in the roster he’s built, thus far.
“I want to be a team — and we’ve talked about this before — that Boston can really get behind,” Stevens said. “That plays with a great edge. That plays with the grit and toughness that’s necessary to compete at the very, very high end. I think Ime and his staff will do a great job of coaching to that. And, I think that we have a lot of players that have proven themselves as competitors and I think that’s excited. So, we’ll see how it all shakes out.”