Brad Stevens Breaks Silence on Kemba’s Exit, Horford’s Return

Brad Stevens breaks silence on Kemba Walker-Al Horford Trade

Getty Kemba Walker (L) & Al Horford (R).

Brad Stevens isn’t here to wallow in mediocrity. After finishing the 2020-21 season with a mere .500-record, Stevens traded in his clipboard for a seat at the head of the table. On Friday, he struck his first deal as the Celtics‘ President of Basketball Operations — a blockbuster trade of his former All-Star point guard.

To recap, the Cs dealt Kemba Walker, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2021 Draft, and a 2025 second-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder. In exchange, Boston yields the services of veteran Al Horford, a promising big-man prospect in Moses Brown, and a 2023 second-round pick.

The trade halts Walker’s tenure in Beantown after two seasons. While much of the past year had been obscured by injuries and a poor playoff run, there’s no denying the Bronx native had a profound positive effect on the team, both on the court and in the locker room during his stay.

Brad Stevens Sends Message to Kemba

“From the very first day that Kemba arrived in Boston, he has handled himself as a true professional, a great teammate, and a fierce competitor,” Stevens said of Walker in a team press release following the trade. “I want to thank him for his tremendous impact, and the positive contribution he’s made to both the Celtics and the city of Boston.”

Overall, Walker appeared in 99 games for the Celtics, averaging 19.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists. Injuries limited the 31-year-old to just 43 games in 2020-21. With that said, he did show glimpses of brilliance late in the year and is also just one season removed from earning an All-Star berth.

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Stevens Talks Horford’s Return

While the Celtics say goodbye to one former All-Star, they welcome another one — for an encore performance.

“Al [Horford] played a critical role both on and off the court during his time in Boston, and we’re excited to welcome he and his family back to the Celtics,” said Stevens. “His diverse skill set combined with his veteran experience and proven leadership make for a great addition.”

After a two-year hiatus, Horford returns to the team he helped advance to two Eastern Conference Finals. From 2016-2018 as a member of the Celtics, “Big Al” averaged 13.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 49.8% from the field and 38.2% from 3-point range. He also earned an All-Star appearance during his inaugural campaign with Boston, which marked the fifth selection of his career. 

Horford is coming off a highly productive, yet abbreviated season with the Thunder. The 35-year-old averaged 14.2 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 36.8% from 3-point range before being shut down for the team’s final 28 games of the regular season.

Of course, Horford is the main draw in this deal. With that said, he isn’t the only intriguing piece the team added to their frontcourt. Moses Brown, a 7-foot-2-inch big man offers a tantalizing skillset at the center position. The UCLA product flaunted his upside in Boston back in March when he posted 21 points and a career-high 23 rebounds against the Celtics.

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