Brad Stevens, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, spoke with the media three days after Boston’s season ended in the Eastern Conference finals.
Here are the key takeaways:
▪ Brad Stevens confirmed Joe Mazzulla will return as head coach.
“I thought he ... did a really good job with this group,” he said. “Everybody’s going to overreact to the best players and coaches after every game. That’s always the way it is. We know that going in. We have be able to judge things on the whole and he’s a terrific leader.”
▪ Stevens said they won’t lose sight of how close they were to another NBA Finals appearance.
Whoever is with the team in the future will “work to get better and use these accomplishments and disappointments as motivation to become hungrier and to continue to work,” Stevens said. “And I have no doubt within the character of our group that we’ll do that.”
Stevens also said the Celtics will “evaluate our roster and make the small tweaks that maybe can put you over the top.”
▪ Stevens said he couldn’t discuss Jaylen Brown’s contract situation because of NBA rules. Brown is eligible for a super-max extension.
“I’ve had nothing but great conversations with Jaylen but we can’t talk about all that stuff.”
He added: “We want Jaylen to be here and he’s a big part of us, we believe in him and I’m thankful for [him].”
▪ Stevens was also asked about Grant Williams, who will likely receive a one-year, $8.5 million qualifying offer and become a restricted free agent.
A key piece during the Celtics’ run to last year’s finals, Williams received inconsistent playing time this season. He made 45 percent of his 3-pointers in the postseason, though he was not used in five of the games.
Stevens said the reduced minutes were a result of the arrival of Malcolm Brogdon and other rotational pieces. Everyone around the league, he said, knew Williams adds value to a winning team.
“(Grant) is a good player who was on a really deep team,” he said.
Everyone around the league, Stevens said, knew Williams adds value to a winning team.
“We’re big fans of his,” he said. “I thought he … did a lot of good things when he got the opportunity.”
▪ Stevens had similar praise for Payton Pritchard, though the second-year guard struggled to crack the regular rotation and has expressed his desire to play, whether in Boston or elsewhere.
“I really feel for a guy like him because there are guys that work at it and there are guys that are obsessed with it,” Stevens said. “He’s obsessed … that’s kind of his personality.”
▪ Stevens said the Celtics did try to add assistants to supplement Joe Mazzulla, including after Damon Stoudamire left the bench in March to become the head men’s coach of Georgia Tech. He also confirmed they will add at least one assistant with NBA experience this offseason.
“We had a change in coach five days before the season started and we did try to add to the staff at that time,” Stevens said.
Our assistants ... pretty much every year going to be called and asked by a lot of teams, so we have a good staff. And I think that that’s one thing that kind of gets lost in the shuffle, because we did have a lot of people that we lost.”
Stevens said the timing for getting coaches to move is difficult, especially in season.
▪ A big question on the minds of many: How involved was Stevens in game planning and other on-court needs?
“My job is to be here to support everybody in this building with whatever they need at that time,” he said. “If somebody wanted to talk about something or there was something we needed to share, I just think it’s important to limit the noise and be on one page.”
He did say that the coaching staff makes decisions on who or how the team plays, and “one that to be very clear that whatever the coaching staff decides we all support.”
▪ Stevens offered some injury updates. Jayson Tatum, who sprained his ankle in Game 7, is “feeling better.” Derrick White’s knee injury at the end of Game 7 was just a “light sprain,” and he should be fine.
Malcolm Brogdon, who was dealing with right forearm issues, will be a bigger question. Stevens said the Celtics will “put our heads together” and that Brogdon will meet with his agent to determine next steps — which could mean surgery.