Brad Stevens and the remainder of the Celtics entrance workplace have been monitoring the Damian Lillard scenario all summer season. Not essentially as a result of they needed to land Lillard. But the C’s knew a domino impact would comply with as soon as the previous Blazers star was traded, that one other participant they’d be drawn to would come obtainable.
The Celtics did their homework. Stevens mentioned they made an inventory of gamers whose contract numbers must match in any potential Lillard commerce. They have been ready.
Then, lastly, the dominoes began falling final Wednesday. The Milwaukee Bucks – certainly one of their prime rivals within the Eastern Conference – acquired Lillard. And when Jrue Holiday turned obtainable because of this, they have been able to pounce.
The Celtics have lengthy coveted Holiday, the All-Defensive guard with an edge and toughness they misplaced earlier this summer season after they traded Marcus Smart. A confirmed champion. Stevens didn’t waste the chance.
“There’s a list of guys in the league that you always think you’ll never have a real chance to get that you think are perfect fits and that you’d love to be a Celtic,” Stevens mentioned. “And Jrue is one of those guys.”
Per week in the past, the Celtics had no purpose to not be content material or assured of their roster. They had already shaken issues up with the acquisition of Kristaps Porzingis, or have been proud of the steadiness of the roster heading into coaching camp. They have been already a championship favourite.
But they couldn’t predict Holiday instantly changing into obtainable. And they couldn’t cross him up, even for 2 key items of their core in Robert Williams and Malcolm Brogdon.
“Gotta pay a good price for things, right?” Stevens mentioned. “Like, that’s the way it goes. We’re trying to win a championship, trying to be as good as we can be. We certainly did, and two picks and two good players, and that is a real price. But that’s how good we think Jrue is.”
As the Celtics returned to the Auerbach Center for media day, with coaching camp beginning Tuesday, the joy was palpable. Holiday, apparently, was already within the constructing.
Holiday didn’t take part in Media Day and may’t observe with the Celtics simply but as they await physicals on each side of the commerce to cross. The new guard is anticipated to be launched this week, however he’s clearly already enthusiastic about his new chapter.
“Jrue beat me to the gym this morning,” Stevens mentioned.
“He’s eager and just getting a chance to spend a few minutes on the phone with him (Sunday) night and then a few minutes with him today, he’s a really impressive person, so we’re glad he’s here.”
His new teammates are simply as excited to not must face him anymore. Holiday has been a pest towards the Celtics for years, however not. Jaylen Brown has been preaching a renewed dedication to the defensive finish because the summer season, and the addition of Holiday – a five-time All-Defensive choice, together with first crew final season – will solely assist.
“Jrue is fantastic,” Brown mentioned. “Tremendous amount of respect for Jrue from somebody who he’s guarded and I’ve had to guard. He plays with a certain force that you could just feel. He’s just, he’s a super solid man and just as a competitor, he’s an assassin. So, to be playing alongside, I think it’d be a tremendous honor.”
For a Celtics crew that retains arising in need of a championship, the acquisition of Holiday – who received a championship in 2021 with the Bucks – could possibly be the lacking ingredient to assist them recover from the hump.
That’s not overstating issues. Even in a locker room that’s already skilled a number of success, the Celtics know the way precious Holiday may be for them.
“We certainly can learn a lot from Jrue, being on a team that won a championship and they had to face a lot of adversity,” Jayson Tatum mentioned, referencing Milwaukee’s title. “I remember Giannis (Antetekounmpo) got hurt in the playoffs and they were down 0-2 in the Finals and came back and won. There is a lot we can learn from Jrue. On the court, the stuff they had to overcome and off the court. I’m looking forward to having him on this team, what he brings as a player and as a person.”
Added Derrick White: “Having someone that has been on that stage and has won on that stage, that’s something that you can’t really replace or replicate. Having him on our team now is going to be good and he’s going to just help us each and every day. He understands what it takes to get over that hump and that’s what we keep talking about.”
There is definitely threat concerned on this commerce, one which tightens the Celtics’ championship window in some respects and places stress on them. It’s a win-now transfer for this season, which comes a yr earlier than the second apron of the wage cap kicks in, which is able to restrict spending and roster flexibility shifting ahead.
But generally threat is critical in pursuit of a championship. They’ve carried out loads of it between buying and selling Marcus Smart, and now buying Holiday, this offseason.
“It speaks to our ownership’s willingness to spend, regardless, and our eagerness to be the best possible team we could be,” Stevens mentioned. “All of those discussions, without getting too far into weighing the here versus now, all of those discussions have been like endless since the new CBA came out. So those are things that we’ve hashed back and forth over and over and over and have been prepared for any scenario. And certainly, we all have to be mindful of and make good decisions as we move forward.”
The strikes could sign better urgency for the Celtics to win a championship now. That aim hasn’t modified from earlier than, however the franchise’s actions signify a transparent dedication to take action.
“Yeah. 10 out of 10 last year, so 10 out of 10 this year,” Tatum mentioned. “It’s what we are trying to do. We all feel it.”