Entering the offseason, Boston Celtics president Brad Stevens was faced with a difficult task. After a 36-36 campaign and a first-round exit, big changes were in order. But with nearly $100 million in salary committed to four players alone (Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart), his ability to actually enact change was seemingly limited.
Just a handful of weeks later, Stevens has made multiple moves to transform the Celtics’ roster. And despite the constraints he was forced to work around, he looks to have improved the team’s chances of having a better result in 2021-22.
This week, The Athletic’s John Hollinger — who was once part of the Memphis Grizzlies front office — named his winners and losers of the NBA offseason to date. For their part, the Celtics came in on the positive side of the ledger.
Hollinger: “Boston’s Offseason Was a Win”
Short of trading Brown for a new star to combine with Tatum as part of a revamped core, the Celtics’ options for improvement appeared to be limited coming into the summer. Nevertheless, Boston managed to make several moves that should improve its immediate outlook.
Most notably, Boston was able to acquire guard Dennis Schroder — who has averaged 15-plus points per game for five years running — with the $5.9 million taxpayer midlevel exception. For Hollinger, though, the Celtics offseason was already a success before Stevens made that particular move.
I think Boston’s offseason was a win even before that. Turning Kemba Walker into Al Horford had a cost… But the Celtics both executed a needed reconfiguration of their roster to add another quality big and cut millions from what loomed as a luxury-tax bill this year and next. Instead, the Celtics can actually operate as a cap room team in 2022-23.
That in and of itself was a win for Boston’s future. However, the players that Stevens added will make an impact in the present, too. Added Hollinger:
From there, Boston made the grown-up decision to trade for Josh Richardson rather than get into a bidding war to retain Evan Fournier and somehow received a draft pick while dumping Tristan Thompson’s salary. (Seriously, can somebody explain to me how the Celtics got a second, and the Kings, who surrendered Delon Wright and only got back Thompson, ended up with nothing?)
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The Haul Is Getting Better and Better, Too
While Hollinger’s appraisal of Stevens’ first summer at the helm of Boston’s front office was overwhelmingly positive, the Celtics’ haul continues to get better. The hoops insider didn’t even mention the signing of Enes Kanter, who could play a big role as a bench big for new coach Ime Udoka.
And Stevens’ replacement on the sidelines has indicated that more moves could be coming, per the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach:
On Tuesday night, coach Ime Udoka offered a slight hint that the Celtics might not be done assembling the team just yet. When speaking about newly acquired guard Josh Richardson he also referenced ‘some of the other guys we’re looking at bringing in.’