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It has been a fascinating few years for Brad Stevens since he took over as Celtics GM and President of Basketball Operations. It’s an impossible job to do perfectly, but from the outside looking in, it’s easy to see that he has a knack for the job.
He’s made big trades, eclectic draft picks, but most importantly, he’s built elite rosters. With another offseason coming to an end, let’s look back at Brad Stevens biggest trades and see if he came out on top.
Kristaps Porzingis trade:
Boston Celtics acquired: Kristaps Porzingis, 2023 1st, top-4 protected 2024 1st
Memphis Grizzlies acquired: Marcus Smart
Washington Wizards acquired: Tyus Jones, Danilo Gallinari, Mike Muscala, 2023 2nd
We’ll start with the most recent headliner. Acquiring Kristaps Porzingis for Marcus Smart will likely go down as a defining trade moment for the Brad Steven’s Celtics. Not only are you moving on from a pillar of the organization in Smart, but KP signals a massive change in the way the Celtics will play basketball for the next couple seasons at a minimum.
Now, we’re in the business of giving grades and saying who won and lost a trade, so without basketball having been played, this remains an incomplete. On paper, acquiring KP for basically Smart, Gallinari, and Muscala is a pretty outstanding return. We won’t know about the metaphorical changes with Smart going until we, again, get into the season. For now, I say we give the Celtics the winning shade and adjust accordingly later.
Al Horford trade:
Celtics acquired: Al Horford, Moses Brown, 2023 2nd
Thunder acquired: Kemba Walker, 2021 1st, 2025 2nd
We started with the most recent trade of Brad Stevens tenure, how about the first trade he made? Turning Kamba Walker’s contract and his knee issues into Al Hoford remains not only one the best trades of Steven’s career, but really of any trade made in the past few years. Horford has once again become an integral part of the Celtics rotation. His defense, 3-point shooting, and leadership are basically irreplaceable on this Celtics roster. It’s hard to imagine this team without him and re-acquiring him in the first place has proven to be a master stroke. This is a pretty easy A+ grade. Celtics come out as big winners.
Derrick White trade:
Celtics acquired: Derrick White
Spurs acquired: Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, 2022 1st, 2028 1st swap
The Derrick White deal was the first trade Stevens made that was met with a fair amount of initial backlash. Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, a 1st round pick, and another potential pick swap for just Derrick White was not initially popular among the masses. Hilariously, most people were worried about the pick swap six seasons in the future. Thankfully, there is nothing to worry about anymore. Derrick White has gotten better by the season and now enters his 2nd full season with the team, becoming the de facto starting PG with Smart out the door. His 3-point shooting and court vision have both improved since joining Boston, adding onto his already elite perimeter and rim defense. I think it’s safe to say that this is another A+ trade and a big win for Stevens.
Malcolm Brogdon trade:
Celtics acquired: Malcolm Brogdon
Pacers acquired: Aaron Nesmith, Daniel Theis, Nik Stauskas, Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan, 2023 1st
Looking back on this trade, it’s a bit shocking that the Celtics were able to acquire Brogdon for what ultimately became Aaron Neismith and a first round pick. Brogdon had a few seasons in a row with injury issues, so Stevens definitely took advantage of his price tag and got him for about 75 cents on the dollar. Brogdon was a big piece of the 2022 Celtics, but his injury issues caught up to him once again, as his elbow injury severely inhibited his play during the Eastern Conference Finals. This is a tough trade to judge. It was definitely a win of Stevens and the Celtics, but I’m not sure I’d call it the same level of success as the White or Horford trades. Let’s grade it a B/B+ for now and reevaluate once the reigning Sixth Man of the Year is healthy again.
Mike Muscala trade:
Celtics acquired: Mike Muscala
Thunder acquired: Justin Jackson, 2023 2nd, 2029 2nd
We’ll keep it quick on this one. Muscala was the big ticket acquisition at the trade deadline for the Celtics and by “big ticket” I mean it was all they could acquire after trading their 1st round pick for Brogdon a few months earlier. Muscala barely played, but he did end up being a nice trade piece to use during the Kristaps trade. I think we can give this one a C and give the Thunder the win since they got a few assets for Muscala.
And that it’s so far! So far, Stevens has a 4-1 record in his trades with all four wins being major parts of his winning roster without giving up major long-term assets. For me, I say the Al Horford trade is still his finest. Flipping the Kemba contract to bring back a guy that has defined an era of Celtics basketball and him taking his game up another notch is a thing a beauty. It set the stage for the three other big trades he made and his handling of Horford the next few seasons will be a major part of the future of the Celtics roster. Anyway, it’s been a good start to Stevens tenure as Celtics GM. The KP trade starts the next chapter. Let’s see how it turns out for the boys in Green.