Celtics' front office chief Brad Stevens expects only tweaks to roster as they look to defend title

Tue, Jun 25, 2024
NBA News (AP)

Celtics' front office chief Brad Stevens expects only tweaks to roster as they look to defend title

BOSTON (AP) - The past week has been a whirlwind for Brad Stevens since the Celtics reached the goal he's been chasing since he arrived in Boston in 2013.

He's gone from coach to president of basketball operations during that time, experiencing all the failures and near misses it took to finally earn the franchise's 18th championship.

It's also why he's not allowing himself to get caught up in the expectations that already hover around the Celtics to do it again next season.

"The adulation doesn't mean much in all sincerity. And the scrutiny doesn't mean much either," Stevens said Tuesday. "If you hang a banner everybody is going to talk about how great you are. And if you don't, they're going to talk about how much you stink. ... If you tie your approach to that, then you're just going to ride a roller coaster that's not worth the journey. So, I think the most important thing is you appreciate the people you're with, you try your best to have the best season you can. And you just keep going."

The good news for Stevens is that the Celtics are positioned well to be very much in the mix to defend their title next season. Their top six players - Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford - are under contract for next season.

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After having secured long-term extensions with Brown, Holiday and Porzingis, the Celtics are expected to do the same with Tatum and White this summer.

It's why Stevens isn't anticipating any major changes this offseason.

The Celtics hold the 30th and 54th overall picks in this week's draft, but he said any player they select will be with an eye toward the future, not the present.

"I think there's a lot of moving parts to keeping this roster sustainable beyond this year. But specifically to this year, we've got a lot of guys back," Stevens said. "It will be hard for any draft pick to crack our rotation when healthy. So we'll think about how we can continue to invest in young players and their development and growth, with the reality that if we're able to continue to move forward with this group - these guys are going to be on the court."

Keeping the current core of this group intact will put the Celtics into the second apron of the luxury tax for a second straight year, but the biggest ramifications of that won't need to be addressed until after next season.

While Stevens expects winning the title to put a target squarely on their backs next season, he bristles at the notion that the Celtics will be clear-cut favorites.

"I don't know what the league's going to look like in three weeks, so who knows?" Stevens said. "But I know this. Human nature is going to be another huge opponent. All of our opponents - when you win - the other 29 teams target you. It's a different thing to come back from to then be great again."

What this group has earned though, he said, is the opportunity to come back together to take on that challenge.

"We'll always evaluate how to make our team better," Stevens said. "But I think we would be crazy not to say that character and the foundation of this team is right. And let's see if we can be as consistent as we can. Grow. Develop. Get better. Improve. ... I'm not anticipating major changes, at least early on. Because I think this team deserves that."

PORZINGIS UPDATE

Stevens said Porzingis is still being evaluated for the next steps on how to proceed to repair the dislocated tendon in his left ankle that he injured in the NBA Finals.

"Kristaps is still in the middle of consulting with some different doctors and specialists. We anticipate surgery will be soon. We'll have more of a timeline and recovery after the surgery," Stevens said.

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KYLE HIGHTOWER Sports writer covering Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox & Bruins. twitter mailto "
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