As the franchise’s new shot-caller, Stevens executed a bevy of moves, this summer, including bringing back former All-Star center Al Horford, trading for a veteran wing defender in Josh Richardson, and inking scoring guard Dennis Schroder to a modest one-year deal.
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All in all, The Athletic’s David Aldridge wasn’t dazzled by the changes. In fact, while disclaiming his piece is in no way shape, or form, a prediction for how each of the 30 NBA teams will fare throughout 2021-22, Aldridge ranked Boston as having the fourth worst offseason moves in the league.
Here’s the skinny from Aldridge.
David Aldridge: ‘Pritchard Played Great… But That’s a lot of Hoping’
“The Cs reshuffled the cards, bringing Horford back, and moving on from Walker after just two seasons,” Aldridge wrote, via The Athletic. “Taking a no-risk flier on Schroder is fine, as is flipping Thompson for depth. Boston also has multiple TPE in its pocket, including a $17 million one in what became a sign-and-trade for Fournier. Using any of them could definitely swing the offseason in a more positive direction.”
Still, as Aldridge points out, the pressure is on second-year guards Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard to each take respective leaps in their development — which should yield positive results for the 2021-22 Celtics. However, that’s still a big “if,” by David’s estimation.
“Boston obviously hit on Jayson Tatum and Brown, the Celtics have burned through the rest of those extra firsts from Brooklyn and Philly,” Aldridge added. “Smart and Richardson, coming off a disappointing year in Dallas, look to be the starting backcourt. Does anyone think that core is better than the Bucks or Nets or 76ers? Payton Pritchard, Aaron Nesmith, and Romeo Langford could improve; Pritchard played great in Vegas this year. But that’s a lot of hoping.”
Did Brad Stevens Add Enough Depth?
Roster depth was a big issue, last season. However, that was the case for most teams, as NBA players adapted to the league’s new, but necessary, COVID-19 health and safety protocols that left most teams shorthanded on any given night.
Health is a legitimate concern for Boston, considering its projected starting center in Robert Williams has played only 113 games throughout his three-year career. That didn’t stop Stevens from signing Williams to a four-year, $54 million extension, last week — which further demonstrates the confidence Stevens and the Celtics have instilled in their 23-year-old big man.
While Aldridge slighting Boston’s offseason as one of the worst in the NBA, this summer, is a stretch in contrast to a handful of teams whose underwhelming retooling flew way under the radar, it does magnify how critical contributions from guys like Pritchard and Nesmith will be. While Stevens did, in fact, add valuable pieces that do bolster the roster, as a whole, much of the uncertainty lies at the tail-end of new coach Ime Udoka’s projected player rotation.