The Boston Celtics’ frontcourt will look a bit different next season.
The Celtics didn’t land Kevin Durant, but they still made a splash in free agency by signing All-Star big man Al Horford. Yet Horford’s signing had consequences, as the C’s essentially cut ties with Jared Sullinger by renouncing his qualifying offer and also let Evan Turner walk in free agency.
Sullinger had an up-and-down tenure in Boston after the Celtics selected him 21st overall in the 2012 NBA Draft, but head coach Brad Stevens is confident the big man will land on his feet.
“I think Jared’s a really good player and I think Jared will continue to be a really good player,” Stevens told reporters Sunday night before the Celtics’ Summer League game in Las Vegas, via The Boston Globe. “Obviously when we got Al, that made us make hard decisions. And the thing that stinks about that is having to move on and move forward, both for him and us. But he’ll do great.”
Needless to say, Stevens is excited about adding Horford, a versatile big man who averaged 15.2 points and 7.2 rebounds last season and excels at the defensive end. At 30 years old, Horford also is Boston’s de facto elder statesman.
“He’s a good fit. There’s no doubt about that,” Stevens said. “But you know what, I think that he’ll help make our other guys better. And any time you have a guy that, again, has achieved what he has achieved, he can help share a lot of tricks of the trade with others. And we still have a very young team.”
The Celtics indeed are one of the youngest teams in the NBA, but they’re poised to be a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference after adding Horford and No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown to a team that won 48 games last season. Boston also was a major player in the Durant sweepstakes, and in discussing the Celtics’ pitch for KD, Stevens admitted he’s excited about the team’s prospects going forward.
“This is who we are. This is what we’re about,” Stevens said. “This is how we play and this is how much I’ve enjoyed my transition to Boston, and so those are all major talking points for me.
“… For us to be able to walk out of last weekend with an All-Star forward, it’s a heck of a weekend. Obviously with the whole Durant thing and everyone following that so closely, I was excited about what we had to sell and what we’re talking about. And I do think it’s not fallen on deaf ears.”
Stevens also discussed Turner’s departure, his initial thoughts on Brown and the team bringing back Jonas Jerebko and Amir Johnson.
Thumbnail photo via Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports Images