Skip to main content

Since replacing Danny Ainge as the Celtics' president of basketball operations two years ago, Brad Stevens has proven to be aggressive and stealthy.

He traded three-straight first-round picks and a top-1 protected selection in the 2028 draft. After a disastrous start to the 2021-22 campaign and being on the outside looking in at the play-in tournament in mid-January, Stevens could've stood pat at the deadline and let Boston's chips fall where they may.

Instead, he swung for Derrick White, a home run of a trade that no one saw coming. The same goes for acquiring Malcolm Brogdon last summer without sacrificing any rotation players.


Entering an offseason filled with questions about the direction of the franchise, most notably, its appetite for paying Jaylen Brown a five-year, $295 million veteran supermax extension, the Celtics' president of basketball operations expressed the following about their need for external improvements.

"The bottom line is, we've got to get better. And so, how do we get better? Obviously, whoever is here needs to continuously work to get better and use these accomplishments and disappointments as motivation to become hungrier and to continue to work. And I have no doubt with the character of our group that we'll do that. That's what these guys have been about; they've always done that. And then we'll always look at how do we best evaluate our roster and make the small tweaks that maybe can put you over the top."

Stevens came across as candid at Thursday's press conference. But that's also critical to not tipping his hand.


Stevens also utilized his time at the podium to make clear that Joe Mazzulla will be back, meaning Boston avoids hiring a fourth head coach in four years.

"He's a terrific leader. He'll only get better at anything that he can learn from this year because he's constantly trying to learn. And he's accountable. Those leadership qualities are hard to find. And I know they're easy to talk about. But when you can show all those through the expectations and the microscope that he was under, that's hard to do," conveyed Stevens.

Along with the expectation that Mazzulla grows from his first year at the helm, especially after squaring off with Erik Spoelstra in a seven-game series in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics intend to bolster their coaching staff supporting him.

That became even more of a need on the heels of Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe reporting the expectation assistants Ben Sullivan, Aaron Miles, and Mike Moser join Ime Udoka with the Houston Rockets.

Stephen Silas, the former Rockets' head coach Udoka is replacing, was at the Auerbach Center at times during the playoffs and showed up to TD Garden. So did Phil Pressey. It seems likely both will be on the Celtics' staff next season. And don't be surprised if there are other notable additions, with Sam Cassell being a name to keep an eye on.

So, perhaps patience, reaching an extension agreement with Brown, trusting Mazzulla will improve, and strengthening the coaching staff, is Boston's best path forward.


They already have a roster widely considered the most talented team on paper this season. Perhaps they're some schematic tweaks from Banner 18. After all, they're moving forward with a firm understanding that defense setting the table for their success is the identity that best suits them.

At Thursday's press conference, Stevens offered the following evaluation of the Celtics' offense.

"My goal every time down the floor is to get a great shot. Obviously, I would love for that to be a dunk...We had trouble getting by that first line of defense with all the help and hands and activity. And then you hope that you're skilled enough to take advantage of open looks.

"I'm more focused on what's a great shot, not, 'Hey, we need to do this or that.' It's, can we get dunks? Can we get to the free-throw line? Can we get open threes? That's how I evaluate the game.

"And then, for me, the way I've always looked at it is, which team towards the end of that series is getting more there, the looks they're getting are more in their wheelhouse of how they're generating them," adding, "I thought Miami did a really good job in Game 7 specifically of generating what they wanted and keeping us from getting what we wanted."

Perhaps Marcus Smart's starting but not finishing contests, so Jayson Tatum and Brown instead have a kick-out option that's a better shooter is a solution that will help change that. And maybe the coaching staff will find schematic cures to an offense that's let Boston down two-straight postseasons.

Plus, Brown's come back better after every summer, so perhaps this offseason, he will improve his handles, ability to be more effective going left, and continues to get increasingly comfortable playing in control and at the pace that works best for him.

If Heat forward Caleb Martin's comments about the two-time All-Star on The Dan Le Batard Show get back to him, and they likely did, it should serve as added fuel this summer.

But it's also possible Brad Stevens has or will arrive at the conclusion more significant changes are required to propel the Celtics to a championship after a playoff run lacking consistency ended at TD Garden, where they were 5-6, bringing them to 11-12 on their parquet the last two postseasons, the most home losses in a two-year playoff span in NBA history, per ESPN Stats & Info.

While Stevens may have concealed his hand on Thursday, the coming months will reveal what he believes is necessary for Boston to get over the hump after reaching the Eastern Conference Finals five times in the last seven years but having no NBA titles to show for it.

Further Reading

Brad Stevens Says Celtics View Jaylen Brown as a 'Big Part of Us Moving Forward'

Brad Stevens Discusses Joe Mazzulla's First Year as Celtics' Bench Boss, Strengthening Coaching Staff: 'Joe's Experience Now, You Could Probably Measure In Dog Years'

Celtics' Coaching Staff Reportedly Undergoing Major Shakeup

Celtics' Championship Aspirations Undermined by Identity Crisis

With Partnership at Crossroads, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum Discuss Former's Future with Celtics

Celtics Discuss Trying to Overcome Jayson Tatum's Ankle Injury in Game 7 Loss to Heat: 'A Shell of Myself'

Malcolm Brogdon Explains What Caused Boston Celtics to Miss 2023 NBA Finals

Here's What Stood Out in Game 7 Loss to Heat: Celtics Come Up Small, Enter Offseason of Uncertainty