For Brad Stevens, there really was no easing into his new role as Boston Celtics President of Basketball of Operations.
The former coach has been busy in his first few months on the job. Stevens has pulled off a litany of trades and signings along with going through the NBA Draft process as he reshapes Boston’s roster around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
“As far as the expectations of the job, I knew it was going to be a sprint right now with everything that we had to do this summer,” said Stevens during his media availability Thursday. “There’s a lot to do. The phone rings a lot, but it’s all good. It’s been quite an adjustment and quite, again, a full sprint since the season ended.”
Stevens ensured the Celtics would have a more veteran presence for the upcoming campaign. He first acquired Al Horford, who played three seasons in Boston from 2016-19, and shipped Kemba Walker and a first-round pick out the door.
Stevens continued to wheel and deal, completing a trade with the Dallas Mavericks to get Josh Richardson, who Stevens admired for his defensive versatility and determination to win. Stevens also pulled off a three-team trade that sent Tristan Thompson to the Sacramento Kings and brought former Providence star Kris Dunn and Bruno Fernando to Boston from the Atlanta Hawks.
Stevens then added Enes Kanter and Dennis Schroder in free agency, both on one-year deals. Stevens said he felt “really fortunate” to sign a player of Schroder’s caliber to a minimal contract worth $5.9 million given Schroder reportedly turned down a four-year, $84 million deal this past season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The moves were part of Stevens’ vision for what he wants the Celtics to become, and what they certainly were not in his final season on the bench.
“I want to be a team, and we’ve talked about this before, that Boston can really get behind, that plays with a great edge, that plays with the grit and toughness that’s necessary to compete at the very, very highest level,” Stevens said. “I think Ime (Udoka) and his staff will do a great job of coaching to that and I think we have a lot of players that have proven themselves as competitors and I think that’s exciting.”
With getting acclimated to his front office role, Stevens draws upon his eight years of experience on the sideline coaching the Celtics when going through his decision-making process to add a player to the roster.
“I think that might be the uniqueness of me moving into this role is my first thought is how much did I fear them? How much do I think they can impact the game coaching against them?” Stevens said. “Maybe that’s a different viewpoint than people that have other viewpoints. I think we’ve had good discussion about that as we continue to talk about people that we’re interested in.”
With Celtics training camp set to open on Sept. 28, the question now is Stevens done tinkering with the roster?
Stevens said Yam Madar and this year’s second-round pick Juhann Begarin will play overseas this season, but believes they could both “really be impactful sooner rather than later.” The Celtics, who have 16 players on the roster, will need to get down to 15 at some point, but it doesn’t appear any big-time moves are on the horizon.
“Most tweaks would be around the edges via potential moves, but there’s nothing imminent and there’s nothing that I think is a certainty by any means,” Stevens said. “We’ll continue to monitor that and discuss those things as we go through the next few weeks and then we’ll continue to monitor that as we go through the first part of the season.”
Stevens also humbly expressed that he feels the team has upgraded in the coaching department as well. And while Stevens’ moves as the coach last year didn’t help the Celtics overcome a disappointing campaign, his moves as president of basketball operations might be the difference this time around.
“I think that last year with all the different injuries and the uniqueness of the season, the quick turnaround, I do think that the team last year was probably a little better than we played,” Stevens said. “Obviously, we improved our coaching and we added a couple of really good players. So I’m excited about this year’s group. I think one of the things (former President of Basketball Operations) Danny (Ainge) always did a really good job of, he didn’t ever try to put a ceiling on us and I would never try to do that with this year’s group.
“But we certainly feel good about the group as we head into the year barring any unforeseen changes and are looking forward to also what we’re going to be able to do down the road.”
Boston opens its season on Oct. 20.
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: New role has been a whirlwind for Celtics president Brad Stevens