Legendary Celtics Reporter Points Out Overshadowed Brad Stevens Move

Brad Stevens

Getty Brad Stevens has certainly made his mark with the Celtics from the front office.

Brad Stevens has been on top of his game ever since he took over for Danny Ainge as president of basketball operations of the Boston Celtics. From bringing in Derrick White to trading veteran Marcus Smart for Kristaps Porzingis to acquiring Jrue Holiday, Stevens hasn’t missed yet.

Bob Ryan, a legendary sportswriter for the Boston Globe, made note of Stevens’ front-office work during his two-plus years on the job. He also pointed out a key Stevens move that rarely gets talked about.

Bob Ryan Praises Brad Stevens for Bringing Back Al Horford

Stevens took over for Ainge in June 2021 after Ainge resigned as the team’s president of basketball operations. Ainge was known as “Trader Danny” for not being shy about pulling the trigger on several big moves, including ones that brought Kevin Garnett to the Celtics and then sent him out of Boston years later.

Stevens had been the Celtics head coach for eight years, compiling a 354-282 mark. When Ainge left, Stevens just into the front office and has been flawless.

Bringing in White, a relatively unknown guard with the San Antonio Spurs, for Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, and a No. 1 pick might be his best move yet. He also turned Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, and Robert Williams, Danilo Gallinari, Mike Muscala and picks into Porzingis and Holiday, giving Boston arguably the best starting five in the game.

While Stevens has made those big moves, Ryan pointed out another key Stevens move that went under the radar.

“One that was very good that doesn’t get discussed a lot — I don’t want to say no one ever mentions it — is bringing (Al) Horford back,” Ryan said on the “Bob Ryan & Jeff Goodman Podcast.” “What a breath of fresh air he’s been. He’s been terrific.

“He’s everything you asked for, he’s absolutely giving you everything he’s got, and he’s being utilized perfectly well.”

Horford Fills His Role With the Celtics to Perfection

Horford is in his second stint with the Celtics after he initially left for the Philadelphia 76ers via free agency. After an ugly stint in Philadelphia that saw him play in just 67 games, Horford was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in December 2020. There, he played just 28 games before giving way to a younger core.

With Horford out of the Thunder plans, they sent him back to Boston. Stevens sent oft-injured point guard Kemba Walker and a first-round pick as part of the deal.

With Boston, Horford regained his form and became a large part of Boston’s success. This season, with the addition of Porzingis, Horford has mostly come off the bench to provide both offensive and defensive sparks.

At 37 years old, Horford has seen his minutes shrink, averaging a career-low 27.2 per game. Despite the fewer minutes, his production is still there, and he fills a key role for the Celtics, who own the best record in the NBA at 59-16.

This season, Horford is putting up 8.6 points and 6.5 rebounds off the bench. He’s shooting 50.6% from the floor and 42.1% from 3-point range (102-for-242).

“They don’t play him back-to-back,” Ryan said. “They nurse him, but he’s contributed mightily.”

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