Brad Stevens has not been afraid to make changes since taking over as President of Basketball Operations of the Celtics. After an eventful offseason, just three players remain from the roster Stevens inherited when he took over the role in June of 2021– Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Payton Pritchard.
Moving on from guys like Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Grant Williams, and Malcolm Brogdon is not an easy decision, nor is it an easy conversation to have with players Stevens once coached.
“Those phone calls, I’ll probably be somewhere else in ten years hiding,” Stevens said during the team’s annual media day on Monday. “Those are the hardest phone calls.”
Though the departures of guys like Smart and Williams came as a surprise, changes were needed. The Celtics have reached the Eastern Conference Finals five of the last seven years and have continuously come up short. A problem Stevens looks to address by bringing in Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday.
“You have to pay a good price for things, that’s the way it goes,” Stevens said. We’re trying to win a championship. We’re trying to be as good as we can be.”
The Celtics have certainly paid a good price. First, moving on from the man referred to by many as the “Heart and soul” of the Celtics in Smart to land Porzingis, and then sending a massive package to the Trail Blazers, which included Williams, Brogdon, and two first-round picks in exchange for Holiday.
Stevens has identified Porzingis and Holiday as the difference makers that give Boston the best chance to finally get over the hump, and when it comes to evaluating talent, Stevens has given you no reason to doubt him.
“There’s a list of guys in the league that you always think you’ll never have a real chance to get that you think are perfect fits,” Stevens said. “Jrue is one of those guys.”
“Guys like Jrue Holiday are the only reason you ever entertain moving on from a guy like Rob,” Stevens added. “This is a guy that you want on your team whenever you can get them.”
Hearing Stevens speak glowingly about Holiday Monday felt very similar to the tone he has used when speaking of Porzingis.
Steven’s motive is clear – The Celtics are in win-now mode.
As Boston currently sits right in the middle of their championship window, Stevens and ownership are going all in for a championship. Stevens has completely revamped the roster, building around one of the best duos in the league in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Though Stevens may not be done tinkering with the roster quite yet, the big moves are likely over, and Stevens and Celtics ownership have done their part.