Brad Stevens hasn’t yet annoyed his NBA peers the way ultra-competitive Danny Ainge did in trade negotiations. But the Celtics‘ president of basketball operations has apparently made some rivals unhappy — which, in this case, is a good thing.
An exec from one Eastern Conference club had his mood change in a conversation with Heavy Sports when Malcolm Brogdon‘s name was raised. The context was whether the 6-foot-5 guard acquired from Indiana will be a serious help to the Celts.
“He will. He’ll be good for them,” the exec said. “Going to Boston, with strong people around him, unfortunately, yes, he’ll be good for them. I think he’s going to make them a lot better — which p***es me off.”
Jockeying at Top of Eastern Conference
There will be some major jockeying for position in the top half of the East seeding, and the landscape could quite possibly change dramatically in the next few months as rosters get solidified.
Milwaukee appears pretty well set, but Brooklyn still has to deal with Kevin Durant’s trade request and the Kyrie Irving affair — and it’s possible they could just sit tight into the season. Philadelphia has answered the James Harden contract matter for the time being, but it still has to craft its rotation around The Beard and The Process (Joel Embiid). Miami remains very much in the market for moves, and Toronto’s assets make it a prime possibility to be involved in a significant trade.
Atlanta, which has already added Dejounte Murray could well look different by October, and Chicago appears to need to make a move if it wants to compete with the conference elite.
Boston, meanwhile, seems content with adding Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari without giving up anyone from its rotation. The Celtics would still like to add an experienced big man for insurance, but they can afford to take their time and see what shakes out.
‘They Got Better. A Lot Better’
Said another East source, “We knew Boston had talent going into last year, but we weren’t really looking at them as contending to get to the Finals. I don’t think anyone really was. When you saw Milwaukee and Brooklyn and Philadelphia, although they had the (Ben) Simmons question, people weren’t really worried about them (Celtics). But after how Boston got it together and got to the Finals, we’re all looking at them now — and they got better. A lot better. They got a shooter (Gallinari) and they got a guard who can be solid on both ends and can go for a big number offensively in the right situation.
“Brogdon could be really big for them, but the physical part is an issue, the injuries. He does get beat up pretty easily, and he’s missed a bunch of games (playing just 36 last season). But they don’t have to play him a ton and rely on him for a big role. That’s always been a problem with him and the injuries, but maybe he’ll be able to hold up in Boston. If he does, it’s going to be hard to match up with their depth.”
Some of that depth may have trouble getting on the court, however. A Western Conference coach wondered to Heavy how much room there’ll be for Payton Pritchard. He didn’t play a lot early last season, as Dennis Schroder took the most backup minutes at guard, but Pritchard stepped up after Schroder was traded.
“I’ve been watching him for a long time,” the coach said. “Payton Pritchard is T.J. McConnell with a jump shot, and that’s the guy you want on your team.
“He was that guy that people always said wasn’t big enough, wasn’t fast enough, not athletic enough. But nobody figured out that he’s got huge balls and is skilled. I love the kid. I’m just interested to see how he fits there if Brogdon and (Derrick) White take up most of the (backcourt) time off the bench.”