The Boston Celtics have been the best team in the NBA for the majority of the 2023-24 season. This is a testament to how well-put together the entire roster is after the team loaded up on more stars (Kristaps Porzingis, Jrue Holiday) over the offseason. Their current roster marks the best chance for Jayson Tatum and company to hoist the team's 18th championship.

At present, not only do the Celtics have the league's best record, they also have the league's best net rating. They are currently outscoring their opponents by 10.3 points per 100 possessions, which means that the average Celtics game is a blowout.

Thus, they didn't exactly need to make any needle-moving acquisitions at the trade deadline to cement themselves as contenders, for every team in the association (other than the reigning champion Denver Nuggets) is looking up at them.

Nonetheless, even though the Celtics did not exactly make a trade that would set the franchise back in any capacity, one move stands out as something that may not have been the most optimal Boston could have done.

Celtics' biggest mistake at 2024 NBA trade deadline: Using Lamar Stevens to match salary in the Xavier Tillman Sr. trade

Make no mistake about it, the Celtics' decision to trade away Lamar Stevens in the Xavier Tillman Sr. deal is not an egregious mistake at all.

Stevens hasn't played too many minutes for the Celtics, while adding Tillman makes perfect sense for a team that's loading up for the playoffs. But should Boston have traded away someone else in Stevens' place?

The Celtics acquired Stevens in the offseason after he was waived by the San Antonio Spurs, and the 26-year-old forward immediately endeared himself to the prominent members of the organization.

Jayson Tatum, in the aftermath of the trade, even went as far as to call Stevens a “key guy” to their team thanks to his “personality and how hard he worked.” Tatum even said that the locker room misses Stevens' presence.

These are the kinds of players that can be very helpful for a team that has contending ambitions. Protecting the locker room vibes is a must.

If Lamar Stevens was truly beloved by the likes of Tatum, then he was an important member of the team even though he barely contributed anything on the hardwood.

Plus, if playoff viability is on the Celtics' mind, then why did they decide to trade Stevens away, someone who could at least give the team a few minutes on the wing if there's plenty of foul trouble for Boston?

Stevens doesn't try to do too much when he's on the court. But it's a guarantee that he gives it his all in every minute he plays.

In his three games with the Memphis Grizzlies thus far, Lamar Stevens has scored in double figures in all of them, averaging 12.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. The Grizzlies have gone 2-1 during that span, including a huge win over the Milwaukee Bucks despite being as undermanned as they were.

Given the Celtics' depth, it was always going to be difficult for Stevens to get any semblance of consistent playing time. But he is showing that he is a quality piece to have both as a locker room guy and as a potential break glass in case of emergency player the Celtics could have relied upon on the wing.

In Stevens' place, perhaps the Celtics could have dangled Sviatoslav Mykhailuk instead, as his skillset overlaps with a better player on the roster (Sam Hauser). Boston maybe could have dealt away Oshae Brissett, or if they were going to trade Dalano Banton anyway, perhaps they could have utilized his contract in the deal with the Grizzlies.

Again, it's not the Celtics' decision to acquire Xavier Tillman Sr. that is a mistake. Tillman has some playoff experience, and he provides some valuable, playoff-viable insurance behind Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford, as Luke Kornet could be more vulnerable when guarding in space in the postseason.

Tillman's defensive numbers are also astounding, and the fact that the Celtics got him for two second-round picks is a major win.

This is not to say that trading away Lamar Stevens was a huge mistake, even. It's a minor one, at worst.

Stevens played a grand total of 122 minutes with the Celtics. He'll be crossing that mark with the Grizzlies in no time.

But since we're splitting hairs over what was an overall solid trade deadline for the Celtics, it's not too hard to envision them pulling off the same Tillman trade without seeing Stevens depart.