First-time GM Brad Stevens had every reason to blow up this Celtics squad this season, presiding over an underachieving team that refused to take accountability.
Instead of panicking, the coach-turned-GM waited it out, and now the Celtics have won eight straight, own the second-best defensive rating (105.0), and occupy the 6-seed in the East.
At last week’s deadline, Stevens went the conservative route with a few minor moves which brought in Derrick White (14.4 PPG), Daniel Theis, and $17.1 million in trade exceptions.
- The Celtics’ $17.1 million TPE can be used to trade for players whose salaries add up to that figure without adding to their cap and/or luxury tax.
- Their TPE expires in August, which means they’re in position to make an impactful trade this offseason.
- This season, they’re tiptoeing around the $136.6 million tax threshold at $135.1 million in taxable salaries.
- By adding White and Theis, the Celtics have 10 players on the books for the 2022-23 season at roughly $149.5 million; the threshold is $147 million.
Two weeks into the season, Marcus Smart called Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown ballhogs. In late December, veteran Al Horford said the team was “searching” for something.
The two account for 40.1% of Boston’s payroll. But Stevens stuck with his star duo even amid reports of a potential breakup.
When Brown and Tatum are on the floor together, Boston is 12.3 points better per 100 possessions — averaging 56.6 PPG on 47.3% FG.
Sometimes the best move is the one you don’t make.