Celtics

5 takeaways as Brad Stevens talks Celtics offseason, Yam Madar & more

"We certainly feel good about the group as we head into the year."

Brad Stevens takeaways
Brad Stevens speaks at the Auerbach Center in Boston. Auerbach Center

On Thursday, Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens spoke to the media about the team’s offseason — his first at the helm — and the state of the roster after Summer League.

Here are the takeaways.

The roster is likely mostly complete.

Stevens suggested the Celtics have made all of the bigger moves they plan to make, although they might fill in a little around the edges.

“Obviously we have 16 players on the roster right now and so most tweaks would be around the edges via potential moves,” Stevens said. “But there’s nothing imminent, and there’s nothing that I think is a certainty by any means. We will 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.”

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As things stand, the Celtics will have to make a cut — likely one of the guards, where there might be a bottleneck.

Stevens expects the rest of the summer will be busy internally, even if it doesn’t necessarily look like it from the outside.

“We still have a lot of work to do just generally,” he said. “Some around the edges with the roster and some around making sure that now we can focus on some other things from an operational standpoint. So there’s a lot to do.”

Stevens is excited about the new additions.

The Celtics were happy to acquire Josh Richardson using their TPE — adding “grit” and “edge” at the guard position. Stevens said he doesn’t believe Richardson’s 3-point percentage last year (33 percent) represents his ability as a shooter.

“He’s always been a good shooter and our numbers would say that when he gets the open opportunities, he’s better obviously than he shot last year,” Stevens said. “But he wants to win. Like winning is really important to him. I think the way that he separated himself when he joined the league with him being a mid-second-round pick was he showed his competitive character out of the gate. I think that that is something that we’re looking forward to adding to our team.”

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Dennis Schroder, meanwhile, agreed to a one-year deal at the taxpayer mid-level exception, which helped the Celtics avoid a hard cap. Stevens said he was surprised but pleased to get Schroder.

“If you would have asked me on the first day [of free agency], first two days, it probably would be unlikely that we would be able to be in play for him,” Stevens said. “But he is, again, super edge, super competitor, is a guy that can impact the game at so many levels and plays both ends of the court.”

Yam Madar and Juhann Begarin are headed back overseas.

Not an enormous surprise, but the Celtics’ two young draft-and-stash players are headed back overseas. Madar and Begarin showed some promise at Summer League, but neither looked like they would make an enormous impact in the NBA this season.

“They both have their teams and where they will be and we think they’re really good situations,” Stevens said. “We think they’re going to do great. We’re going to be over there quite a bit. I think they’re both guys that you can see being really impactful sooner rather than later. Both guys that we’re excited about.”

Stevens praised Madar’s “game-changing” defensive presence.

“He has a flair to his game and a skill that’s fun and I think he will continue to grow and be a good player,” Stevens said.

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Begarin, meanwhile, impressed Stevens with his defensive versatility.

“I thought Juhann did a lot of really good things [at Summer League],” Stevens said. “He was cutting, he was active, he was probably our best verticality at the rim defender. He’s a strong guy that’s hard to go through. Pretty encouraging for a super young guy who has a bright future ahead.”

The Celtics still have a lot of flexibility.

Stevens maintained the ability to do a lot of different things this season.

One noteworthy example: He avoided hard-capping the Celtics in part because the team wanted to make sure it could use its TPEs if necessary. Letting Evan Fournier walk — even though they thought highly of his game — was another example.

“We did engage with Evan, and he chose the offer that he wanted to,” Stevens said. “That’s his right, and kudos to him. He’s a good guy, and he’ll do well. And from the standpoint of the traded player exception, again, we just thought from the standpoint of more space, to be able to take in whether it’s one salary, whether it’s several salaries, whatever the case may be, if we want to, the more flexibility we have, the better.”

“This is complicated stuff from a numbers standpoint, but I think we do have some flexibility and some options, which is good,” he added. “And we’ve got good players, so we’ve got a good foundation and that’s exciting as well.” 

The Celtics have some toughness.

On multiple occasions, Stevens talked about how this year’s team should be gritty and tough — the types of teams with whom Stevens excelled as a coach.

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New Celtics coach Ime Udoka is known as defensive-minded as well. Given Stevens’s preference for those types of teams and his apparent vision for this squad, perhaps it’s little surprise he and Udoka saw eye to eye in interviews this offseason.

“Obviously there’s two sides of the ball, and to win you have to play both sides well,” Stevens said. “To be a great team, and a team that’s in the mix, you should probably be in the top five or six on both sides. We’ll see where we land when we get together, and how we play, and how we fit together and everything else, but we have a lot of good players, and that’s exciting.”

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