In his first offseason as President of Basketball Operations, Brad Stevens had a busy summer that included trading Kemba Walker for Al Horford, filling the remainder of the Gordon Hayward TPE with Josh Richardson, and re-signing two key defensive cornerstones in Marcus Smart and Robert Williams.
And in his first in-season test dealing with the ever-churning NBA rumor mill, Stevens passed with flying colors. On his visit with Toucher & Rich at 98.5 The SportsHub, the former Celtics head coach addressed a report by The Athletic’s Shams Charania that the team was interested in Ben Simmons.
“When you get into trade rumors, obviously, there’s going to be rumors, there’s going to be talks,” Stevens said on Monday’s trade speculation. “We have to be on the phones, but we also have to be prudent and smart about what we’re doing with our own team. I would say most of the time that I’ve been here at least, there’s a lot less to it that’s real.”
The purported other half of that Simmons deal would have been Jaylen Brown, Boston’s leading scorer who has been out a week with a strained right hamstring. Five years ago, Simmons was the #1 pick in the NBA Draft with the Celtics selecting Brown two picks later. After Simmons missed the entire year, he won Rookie of the Year with Jayson Tatum placing third in voting in 2018. Simmons and the Celtics two stars seem to always cross paths, but Stevens wanted to be sure that Brown understood that those fates would only collide on the court and not as passers by at Logan after a superstar swap.
“I just walked up to Jaylen and said, ‘your name is all over the place as you know. Obviously, from our standpoint, you’re a Celtic and obviously a guy that we think exceptionally high of. Nothing doing,’” Stevens said of his conversation with Brown on the speculation. “I just wanted to make sure that he has that peace of mind.”
He also provided an update on Brown’s hamstring injury. “Not worried about it. I think he feels better than he’s felt in any of the previous times that he’s done it. I think this is the third time over the last four or five years that he’s had this particular hamstring flare up. This one was seemingly a little bit lower grade.
Because it’s the third time, we have to be smart about how quickly he comes back. He’s itching to play sooner rather than later, but at the same time, we need to make sure that it doesn’t become something that reoccurs,” Stevens said.
Brown felt tightness at the end of the third quarter in Miami last Thursday night. He’s been given a one to two week timetable for a return, but with the team looking at a three-games-in-four-nights stretch starting Friday against the visiting Bucks and then heading to Cleveland for two against the Cavaliers, it’s possible Brown returns to the rotation in his hometown of Atlanta next Wednesday.