Brad Stevens has been a busy man this summer. Since his Celtics were eliminated by the Miami Heat in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals, there have been major changes to Boston’s roster and coaching staff.
The biggest move was the trade that sent Marcus Smart to the Memphis Grizzles in exchange for Kristaps Porzingis and two first-round picks. Smart had been the longest-tenured Celtics, having been with the team since he was drafted sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft.
Smart was also a key piece in the Celtics’ core that had reached the Eastern Conference Finals in five of the last seven seasons, but after failing to get over the hump last season, Stevens decided it was time for a change.
Appearing on Jones and Mego with Arcand as part of the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon presented by Arbella Insurance on Tuesday, Stevens offered some insight on the reasoning behind the big changes this offseason.
There’s no question the Celtics have one of the NBA’s best duos on their roster in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and Stevens is putting the pressure on his two superstars.
Arguably the most impactful part of Marcus Smart’s game was the voice and leadership he provided for the team. The loss of Smart leaves a leadership void the Celtics will need to fill this upcoming season, and one Stevens hopes the Jays will take on.
“We need Jayson and Jaylen to continue to grow in that area,” Stevens said.
“We think they are among the best that there can be, so we need them to step up to that,” Stevens added.
After signing Brown to (Temporarily) the richest deal in NBA history, inking a five-year supermax extension worth up to $303.7 million in late July, and with Tatum eligible for a five-year, $318 million deal next offseason, it’s logical for Stevens to expect more from his stars.
When explaining why the Smart trade made sense from a roster construction standpoint, Stevens added, “It’s just time. It’s time for guys to continue to show the growth that we need to show to get to where we need to go, and as part of that, you oftentimes have to make tough decisions.”
The Celtics enter the 2023-2024 season as the favorites to win the NBA Finals according to FanDuel Sportsbook, and if they want to raise banner 18, it all starts with their two superstars.