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Grading the Celtics offseason (CelticsBlog roundtable)

We give our grades to Brad Stevens in his first offseason in his new role

NBA: Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

This week the CelticsBlog staff is going to weigh in together on various topics. Please feel free to expand on these topics and give your own opinions in the comments below.

The Boston Celtics certainly have had an eventful offseason. Starting with a leadership overhaul and eventually a series of moves that changed the makeup of the team both on the court and in terms of future flexibility. Tell us how you would grade Brad Stevens’ first offseason in his new position and provide some rationale for how you came up with that grade.

Bill Sy

The obvious answer right now is INC. We’re all waiting for that other shoe to drop either at the deadline or next summer. However, Stevens deserves a ton of credit for getting the roster to this point. He’s not only stocked the Celtics cupboard with affordable middle class contracts, but in a short amount of time, gave the team a grittiness that’s been lacking for the last two seasons. After Ainge spent years star hunting, Stevens instead built a roster reminiscent of his early coaching days. For work completed, I’ll give Brad a B+ because 1) I know if I short him an A, he’ll work harder and 2) I want Tacko Fall back in green.

Daniel Poarch

At the moment, I’ll give Brad Stevens’ first offseason as President of Basketball Ops a solid B. The Celtics came to the table with future flexibility in mind, and they’ve accomplished that by offloading Kemba Walker’s irksome contract and stocking up on low-risk, moveable deals and a useful stock of TPEs. The extensions for Marcus Smart and Robert Williams both came at reasonable numbers, and the latter in particular could turn out to be a bargain if Williams can put together some healthy seasons. Al Horford and Josh Richardson are both reasonable reclamation projects that won’t be difficult to move on from if they don’t pan out, and Dennis Schröder is a tremendous value signing for just the $5.9 million taxpayer mid-level exception.

That said, it’s hard to bump this grade up any higher for a couple reasons. Though moving on from Walker was likely a necessary step, it’s always tough to be in the position to have to pay to undo past mistakes, and moving the 16th pick in this year’s draft was a steep price. There’s also a short-term potential downside. If the swings on Horford and Richardson don’t connect, the team’s supporting cast may not have meaningfully improved from last season, which is a tough pill to swallow in a season with a pair of players as good as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Given the forward-looking nature of the deals Boston made this summer, it will be hard to fully evaluate this offseason until we see what comes from it. In all, though, it seems like a solid start to Stevens’ front office career, even if it does come with some risk. (edited)

Drew Doxy

Brad gets an A- from me. He retained my favorite players and got rid of some players I thought should go. By virtue of pulling off moves that subjectively please me, I am more apt to give Stevens a favorable grade than most. For years, the Celtics have been plagued by not having multiple mid-level contracts to offer in a trade for a third star. The Celtics now have multiple mid-level contracts to offer in a trade for a third star in addition to owning all future first-round picks and a sizable TPE. Oh, and the Celtics got a starting point guard to come off the bench for pennies without hard-capping the team. What’s not to like? (Don’t answer that; I know I’m overly optimistic)

Rich Jensen

I have to agree with Bill on an INC grade, but for different reasons. Grading the off-season moves before a single game is played feels kind of... premature? I mean the basic idea behind off-season moves is to get ready for the next season, and until that season gets here, we don’t know if trading for, say, Kris Dunn, was a brilliant idea, a horrible idea, or something that doesn’t move the needle either way. Call it my risk-averse nature, but I have a hard time treating the off-season as its own separate thing.

Simon Pollock

I’ll join Daniel in giving Stevens a B. And shoutout to Bill for the incentive structure.

Assuming that something in the A range requires landing an obvious star (and player in their athletic prime or young player approaching it, at that), I think this fits.

What I love about this offseason (so far) is the movement. Just from my far-off perch, outside the league and on this blog, it feels intentional. Stevens’ moves, if nothing else, address (in theory) fundamental issues the team has struggle with. On the court: Richardson and Horford add defensive prowess and flexibility; Schroeder adds starting-caliber guard scoring. Off the court, the moves leave the Celtics with enough medium-sized contracts that maybe, just maybe, people will stop putting Marcus Smart into every deal as the most tradeable contract.

Keith Smith

I’m between a B+ and an A-. Boston had very little in terms of resources to work with and Brad Stevens still managed to improve the roster. Yes, Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier leaving were a blow to the offense, but that should be made up by the team having a bigger, more versatile defense. Dennis Schroder should replace some of what the team lost scoring-wise, and development from a couple of the kids could replace the rest.

Mostly, the team feels more like the successful teams from a few years ago. It might not be pretty, but they’ll defend and they’ll win.

Then, looking forward, the Celtics have a lot of optionality. They can go in several different directions. That’s better than being capped out or chasing dreams with cap space. Overall, Stevens has done really well in his first go-around as the decision-maker for the roster. (edited)

Jesse Cinquini

Brad Stevens deserves an A- for his first offseason at the wheel. Parlaying the Hayward TPE into Josh Richardson and Kemba Walker’s contract into Al Horford were shrewd maneuvers that will assist in re-establishing a defense-first culture. Additionally, to nab Schroder for $5.9 million (even if he’ll likely be a one-year rental) was another ingenious move, as the German should help to offset the departures of Walker and Evan Fournier.

Perhaps most importantly, Stevens’ offseason retooling has Boston in a solid position to land a big fish in the summer of 2022. Maybe it’s Bradley Beal, who’s close friends with Jayson Tatum and in a losing situation in Washington. Or maybe it’s Zach LaVine if the Chicago Bulls’ season doesn’t pan out as expected. And even if the C’s don’t convince either to come on board, attractive plan B options like Kyle Anderson or Robert Covington will be available. (edited)

Michael Pearce

This offseason went pretty well in all facets. I give it an 85%, a perfect, solid B.

Of course, losing the 16th pick as Daniel said is steep, but in general the Celtics improved. Now, I believe the team is more well-rounded and prepared for long-term success. The additions of Horford, Schröder and Richardson drastically improve the team defensively. which was an important issue to address.

The reason I’m holding at a B is because this seems like the first of many steps in Brad’s plan, and there still are question marks like Rob Williams’ health, Horford’s age and the reliability of the Celtics’ youngsters. I didn’t even mention the fact we don’t even know Ime Udoka’s system and how the players fit in it. There’s a lot to be seen.

Good start, let’s carry this momentum into the season.

Jeff Clark

You are all wrong and only I am right. That’s how this is done, right?

Brad gets a solid A from me and here’s why. You can only judge him as President of Basketball Operations based on what he’s done this summer and given the baseline roster that he was given. He took an underperforming, capped out team with little maneuverability and made it into a flexible roster that has more upside. He didn’t hit any home-runs with big name signings or trades, but those weren’t available to him either. Instead, he spent his summer hitting solid singles all over the field and setting himself up for a swing at the fences if and when that meatball pitch ever comes across the plate.

I’m not saying that we’ll win the title this year or that all his moves are guaranteed to work out. Maybe my grade will change when we see how this plays out. But from where I sit and based on the information that we have so far, I find it hard to criticize any of the moves that he did make. We’re in a better position now than we were 3 months ago. That’s good enough for me. Now he has to keep doing it till we win another banner.

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