Brad Stevens on Monday addressed media after making his first trade as president of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics.
The deal, centered around a swap of Kemba Walker for Al Horford from the Oklahoma City Thunder, mostly seemed motivated by financial flexibility for the Celtics to build around star wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
That doesn’t downplay what Horford brings to the team as a veteran presence, though. And a young player like Robert Williams is poised to really benefit from the 35-year-old.
“The opportunity to add Al, who makes significantly less money but is, you know, a really good player that has corporate knowledge of this environment, that is really excited to be back in Boston and has a good feel for not only playing with our guys, but also has made them better,” Stevens said. “And I think that his ability to pass, his ability to play a couple of positions, but certainly stretch the floor against bigs and his ability to guard guys who are all very good. But his impact on others and his ability to lift others is one of his great strengths.”
Despite playing just one season together while Williams was a rookie, he and Horford built up a great rapport, and the 23-year-old has spoken about the veteran’s example.
Coming off a season where Williams made a huge jump in his game, Horford should encourage even more growth.
“Rob is a guy that really wants to be good,” Stevens said. “He is a listener. He wants to improve. He’ll lean on every word Al says, obviously, and they can make each other better.”