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Celtics’ GM Explains Logic Behind Trading for 76ers’ Jaden Springer

Why did the Celtics make a deal for Jaden Springer?

When the trade deadline was in its final hour on Thursday, the Philadelphia 76ers made their second shocking trade of the day. After swapping out Patrick Beverley with their Eastern Conference rival, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Sixers sent one of their former first-round picks to the Boston Celtics.

Trading with Boston was a shock in itself, considering the Celtics are a division rival. While 76ers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey noted that dealing non-stars to a division rival isn’t as big of a deal in his eyes, many may see it differently.

But it wasn’t just the fact that the Sixers made a deal with their direct rival. Many were surprised to see the Sixers deal away their most recent first-rounder, Jaden Springer, who was selected in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Understanding that the Springer deal came with many mixed reviews, Morey explained his reasoning behind making the deal.

“We had to look at what are the odds for Jaden Springer, who I think has a great future, help our rotation in the one-two-three-year maybe horizon? And what are the odds the second-round pick helps us?” Morey said. “We thought the second-round pick helps us more. That’s just the reality. It allows us to go get maybe a veteran at next year’s deadline, things like that.”

Although the Sixers trotted out Jaden Springer for a career-high 32 games this season after having him play almost exclusively in the G League throughout the last two years, it was clear there wasn’t a steady spot in the rotation for the young guard when the team is healthy.

The Celtics, who became very intrigued with Springer during the 2023 NBA Preseason, took advantage of the Sixers’ shifted priorities.

“We followed Jaden for a while,” Celtics GM Brad Stevens told NBC Sports Boston. “Jaden went from a guy that I was interested in, to a guy that I was really interested in after our preseason game here when I saw him really defend. Like, really, really defend.”

Since he was selected 28th overall out of Tennessee, Springer became known for his unique defensive talent. With the skillset to make an immediate impact on that side of the ball, Springer’s ability to slow down even some of the league’s most prominent guards helped him stand out during limited minutes. 

“We have been paying attention as we’ve gone into this trade deadline as he’s been playing more, and the matchups he’s had,” Stevens continued. 

“My expectation is for Jaden to come in and keep improving. He’s got to improve his offensive game — he’s got to improve his shooting. He has an ability defensively that is really unique. As I said in my media scrum, he’s younger than most of the guys we’re looking at in the draft. I think, ultimately, there’s a lot there.”

Springer’s slow offensive development certainly must’ve played a part in the Sixers’ struggles to find him a fit in the rotation. As good as his defense has been in spurts, his 39 percent shooting from the floor on 3.7 field goal attempts per game made it difficult to justify playing him for more than 12 minutes per night on a consistent basis.

In the past, Springer’s Philly-based teammates have noted that on a different team with opposite expectations as the Sixers, he would garner an everyday role and get a chance to improve with real playing time at the highest level of hoops. While the Celtics are certainly on a championship path, they’ll take on the challenge of developing the young Springer while searching for a way to implement him into their plans as they fight for a title.