Brad Stevens has officially taken over as president of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics. He’ll be in charge of making the decisions on who makes the Celtics roster and how many new players will be added during the upcoming season. It’ll be a busy role, and one that will require a lot of time and effort from Stevens and his new team of consultants and scouts.
In the past, the Boston Celtics have been able to retain their team’s best players, even when they have been due for a pay raise. In recent years, though, the Celtics have been forced to trade away their stars as a way to save money, a trend that may continue this off-season after the team declined to extend the contracts of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.
The NBA’s offseason has only just begun, and already we’re seeing some big changes to the Boston Celtics’ roster. The team finished with the worst record in the league last season (27-55), and brought in a head coach who has never called a professional basketball game before, sportswriter and former NBA player Jason Whitlock, for a whopping $19 million.
After leaving Butler University to become the Boston Celtics’ head coach, Brad Stevens was a revelation. Danny Ainge’s decision to hire a college coach seemed surprising at first, but if you peel back the layers, it makes sense. Stevens was a brilliant offensive coach who led a mid-major Bulldogs team to back-to-back Final Four appearances. His team came inches from from defeating Duke and winning the national championship on a Gordon Hayward half-court heave at the buzzer. In three separate seasons, he led Boston to the Eastern Conference Finals. Stevens, on the other hand, stepped down as head coach and was promoted to President of Basketball Operations at the end of last season. Although it is still early, the 44-year-actions old’s during his first summer in the job have placed the Celtics’ roster in jeopardy.
Extending Robert Williams’ and Josh Richardson’s contracts is a risky move for the Boston Celtics’ roster.
The Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown speak during the fourth quarter of a defeat to the Detroit Pistons. | Getty Images/Maddie Meyer
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, two of the finest two-way wings in the NBA, lead the Celtics. Last season, the Celtics struggled to get offensive output from the rest of the squad. So far, Stevens’ actions have done virtually little to assist in that regard.
Two of the team’s most significant moves are dubious at best. At worst, they’re dreadful decisions. Former Butler point guard Tristan Thompson was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Josh Richardson. Richardson has only had one successful NBA season. In 2018-19, he averaged 16.6 points and 4.1 assists while shooting 35.7 percent from three-point range for Miami. He’s averaged 12.9 points per game in the two years since, and he’s shot 33.5 percent from outside the arc. After his last season with the Heat, he was paid to become a 3-and-D winger, but he hasn’t lived up to the hype.
Williams was a first-round pick of the Celtics in 2018. He is a big, strong, athletic post player with the potential to protect the rim and be a plus on offense. Thus far in his career, though, the Texas A&M product has averages of 5.7 points and 1.5 blocks in 14.7 minutes per game.
Richardson signed a one-year contract for more than $11 million, while Williams signed a four-year deal costing more than $9 million. Stevens didn’t spend a lot of money on any of them, but were they necessary? Will either player be able to assist Boston’s offense? The answer is an emphatic no to each of these queries.
With only Richardson and Williams on defense, Stevens didn’t stop doubling down.
Marcus Smart’s contract with Boston was also extended by the first-year executive. Smart is the hardest player on the squad and the greatest perimeter defender. The four-year, $51.9 million contract was an overpayment, but one that was required. However, the former lottery selection suffers on offense, as he can’t spread the floor and instead of deferring to Tatum or Brown, becomes a shot chucker in key situations.
Stevens also acquired point guard Kris Dunn in a trade, another rotation player (at best) who is renowned for his defense as well as his offensive ineptitude. Dennis Schroder, the organization’s greatest acquisition, was brought in from the Los Angeles Lakers to assist Tatum and Brown carry the scoring burden. The German point guard has a lifetime scoring average of 14.3 points per game and scored more than 19 points per game with the Atlanta Hawks in 2017-18.
Last season, Tatum and Brown combined for 51.1 of Boston’s 112.6 points per game. Smart is the only player on the squad who had a double-digit scoring average last season. Perhaps adding more defense would help the Celtics compensate for their lack of scoring, but Stevens seems to have totally overlooked the main problem that plagued his club last season.
Around Tatum and Brown, the Boston Celtics still have holes to fill.
Both of the team’s franchise players have grown into NBA stars — superstars in Tatum’s case — and are capable on both sides of the floor. Smart and Schroder, though, are the Celtics’ greatest offensive players after that. That would be a problem in any season, but it’s particularly concerning since the club finished 16th in the NBA in scoring last season.
Stevens stepped up his defense in Boston, but it didn’t address the team’s greatest problem. As a result, the franchise is in jeopardy going into 2021-22.
Basketball-Reference provided all statistics, while Spotrac provided salary information.
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With each draft, the Celtics have made wise and impactful choices. They traded for Jason Terry, picked up Isaiah Thomas as a free agent, and selected Jaylen Brown at No. 3 overall. All of these moves have been for the good of the organization, moving the Celtics into a position of strength. However, this offseason has been a completely different story.. Read more about celtics roster and let us know what you think.
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