Four days after the Milwaukee Bucks made a blockbuster trade in acquiring Damian Lillard, the Celtics responded with another massive move of their own, acquiring Jrue Holiday from the Blazers.
If there were any doubts before, it’s now very apparent the Celtics are in win-now mode. With Marcus Smart, Robert Willims, Grant Williams, and Malcolm Brogdon all traded away, things will look much different for the Celtics this season.
Changes were needed following Boston’s loss in the Eastern Conference Finals a season ago. Despite all the success the core had, they could not get over the hump, and it was time to mix things up.
Stevens has done just that. With the Celtics in the middle of their title-contending window, Stevens has been aggressive in his pursuit of Banner 18, bringing in Kristaps Porzingis, and now one of the league’s most underrated players in the league in Holiday.
However, in trading for Holiday, the Celtics are taking a gamble and sacrificing their depth in a big way. Here are three thoughts that remain following what will likely be the final big swing in what was an eventful offseason for the Celtics:
Marcus Smart Replacement
How the Celtics were going to replace Smart was a big question this offseason and one that has been answered by acquiring Holiday. The 14-year veteran provides scoring, playmaking, and lockdown defense for the Celtics.
Holiday has been named to the All-Defensive first or second team in five of the last six seasons and averaged 7.4 assists per game a season ago. Given his skillset, Holiday should slot in as the perfect replacement for Smart, he may even be an upgrade.
Depth down low
The depth of the Celtics’ frontcourt was an issue last year and one they seemingly addressed in trading for Porzingis. However, in trading Williams, frontcourt depth becomes an issue again, especially when you consider the injury history of Porzingis and the age of Horford.
For centers on their roster, Boston currently has Porzingis, Horford, Luke Kornet, and Neemias Queta (who is on a two-way deal). Kornet isn’t a bad option to slot in as the third center. However, in trading two-for-one, Boston opened up a roster spot that they could use to add a big.
It’s also worth noting Boston generated a $6.2 million traded player exception in the Grant Williams trade. If the Celtics can’t sign a player using the TPE, Stevens still has some assets to make more moves.
The loss of their defensive identity was a driving factor behind the Celtics’ postseason struggles a season ago. With the pairing of two all-defensive guards in White and Holiday, the Celtics have one of the best backcourt defenses in the league.
However, their interior defense took a hit with the loss of Williams. Historically, the Celtics have been better defensively with bigger lineups. With Williams gone, things change a bit, especially if Horford comes off the bench as expected.