The Boston Celtics came up short once again last season in their quest to raise Banner 18 at the TD Garden, sending general manager Brad Stevens back to the drawing board. And after two strong offseasons to start his tenure in charge of the teams' front office, Stevens has once again made some solid moves for the C's.
The biggest deal we have seen, of course, involved the Celtics picking up Kristaps Porzingis and a pair of first-round picks in exchange for a package that amounted to Marcus Smart, Danilo Gallinari, and the team's 2023 second-round draft pick. Oshae Brissett and Dalano Banton have been added in free agency, while Grant Williams landed with the Dallas Mavericks as part of a sign-and-trade deal.
The top end talent on the Celtics roster has undeniably gotten better with the addition of Porzingis, but the key depth flaws that killed this team last season still exist. Stevens has done good work to improve Boston's roster to this point, but it's clear that he still has a handful of moves to make to shore up the backend of the team's rotation.
Why Brad Stevens still has moves to make for the Celtics
A quick look at the Celtics roster shows that they might have the best top seven players of any rotation in the NBA. Their starting lineup will likely feature Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Porzingis, with Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams III being the first guys off the bench. Brissett, Banton, Payton Pritchard, Sam Hauser, and Luke Kornet currently fill out the final few spots of the rotation.
Nobody is saying that this isn't a good roster, but it's clear that the backend of the rotation needs some cleaning up. Losing Smart and Williams isn't the end of the world, but the team's depth obviously is going to take a hit. Guys like Brogdon, Porzingis, and Williams III are all injury prone, so in the event one of them gets injured (and it's going to happen) who is going to step up to replace them.
Addressing the big man rotation is probably the most pressing need for Boston at this point. Porzingis, Williams III, and Horford is an elite trio to lead the way, but if one of these guys goes out, that forces Kornet into the spotlight. Kornet is a decent change of pace option off the bench, but when it comes to playoff time, he can't afford to see the court unless it's garbage time.
Adding a Grant Williams-type player to fill in the rotation is a move that makes a lot of sense here. P.J. Washington would probably be an ideal option in free agency, but it would be a lot tricker to land him since he's a restricted free agent. JaMychal Green and Bismack Biyombo both are other potential options, but it remains to be seen whether they are really better than Kornet. Still, someone needs to be added at this spot.
Bringing another playmaker in the backcourt is a pressing need as well. White and Brogdon can both dish the rock to their teammates, but there's no guarantee Brogdon can stay healthy, and Pritchard and Banton both aren't necessarily pass-first players. The C's have shown interest in John Wall, which may not be a bad idea if he leans into his passing rather than his shooting.
The addition of Brissett gives Boston their best bench wing player in quite some time, but even then, there's still a need to add to this spot too. Again, Washington would make a ton of sense to fill Williams vacant hybrid wing-big man role, but he's not the easiest guy to bring to town. Terrence Ross is a guy the Celtics always seem to get linked to, and they also showed interest in Terence Davis earlier in free agency.
Adding two or three more guys on cheaper contracts is a must for Boston if they want to capitalize off of their big move for Porzingis early on this offseason. The Celtics have the ability to be a better team than they were last season, but they need to round out the edges of their roster. Brad Stevens has never rested on his laurels before, and that cannot change now.
Fans may be clamoring for another big trade with the C's stockpiling second-round draft picks, but they already made the blockbuster deal they needed to make this offseason. Big moves are fun, yes, but it's time for Boston to truly turn their attention to adding the final pieces to this team, or else they will likely find themselves in a similar position this time next year.