Boston Celtics head-coach-turned-general-manager Brad Stevens has not exactly eased into his new role this offseason.
This was the first of four trades Stevens made this offseason to go along with two signings.
None of the moves were splashy but should give Boston some better depth this season.
The Celtics’ biggest moves this offseason came from within.
ESPN Sources: Boston Celtics G Marcus Smart has agreed to a four-year, $77M extension. New deal starts in 2022-‘23 with no player option and secures him at $90M-plus through 2025-‘26.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 16, 2021
The extensions keep four promising young players locked up but all but guarantee Boston will not be active next offseason.
While the roster seems better on paper than last season, it is still not on par with other Eastern Conference contenders.
They lack a true defensive anchor unless Horford turns back the clock or Williams takes a massive leap.
A weak paint presence was one of the glaring weaknesses from last season.
Horford will help and Williams is only getting better but neither will fully fix the issue.
Stevens did well to add depth and better balance to last season’s roster.
The only problem is none of the moves significantly improved last year’s Eastern Conference No. 7 seed.
Contenders Got Better
Boston improved this offseason, yet so did other Eastern Conference foes.
Chicago still needs to prove the influx of talent fits together; however, it feels safe to say they are a playoff lock and a sneaky top-four contender.
The Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers also brought back the core of their teams from last year.
And the 76ers have the chance to add a superstar through a Ben Simmons deal.
Philly, Brooklyn, and Milwaukee are still the teams to beat in the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics did not improve enough to think they will perform better than their 2-7 mark against those three teams from a year ago.
Boston retained their core and added around the margins.
When gunning for a title, teams need to do more than that.
Celtics Need Star Big Man
Boston has clearly found two stars in Tatum and Brown.
Many consider Tatum to be a superstar and he has the game to back it up.
He is a two-time All-Star and one-time All-NBA selection who averaged 26.4 points per game last season.
While Tatum was always a terrific isolation scorer, he has bettered his shot selection and expanded his offensive game.
His running mate in Brown is no slouch himself.
He is a one-time All-Star who averaged 24.7 points per game last season while posting career-best percentages from the field, three, and the line.
Brown played extremely well with Tatum and expanded his off-the-dribble game and playmaking ability.
In Tatum and Brown, the Celtics clearly have two stars capable of leading an offense.
However, both players could be better defensively.
Smart, as tenacious as he is on that end, can only make up for so many shortcomings.
Boston really needs an interior presence who can defend the rim and clean up perimeter mistakes.
The Celtics very much seem to be hoping a star becomes available via trade soon, given how they've operated this offseason and the contracts they've handed out https://t.co/NtlChJTIay
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) August 23, 2021
That player was supposed to be Anthony Davis, but he wound up in Los Angeles.
Williams and Horford should provide an upgrade in that category.
Williams is rangy and athletic, allowing him to block anything within reach.
Horford is an intelligent defender who plays excellent team defense.
Dennis Schroder, Brown, and Tatum will be able to drive the offense.
An elite defensive big is needed to tie everything together.NEXT: Celtics Seem To Love Having Marcus Smart Around