How Brad Stevens Feels About Celtics’ Depth At Center After Kemba Walker Trade

Boston is four-deep with Robert Williams, Al Horford, Tristan Thompson and Moses Brown

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June 21, 2021

The Boston Celtics went from a team with almost no depth at the center position to one who could be looking to ship someone out to make it more manageable.

The Celtics traded Kemba Walker and a first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday and received a pair of big men in return. Boston re-acquired 35-year-old veteran Al Horford and received 21-year-old Moses Brown in the transaction.

The two join Robert Williams and Tristan Thompson as those able to log big minutes. Of note, Brown scored 8.6 points and hauled in 8.9 rebounds in 21-plus minutes per game last season while making 32 starts. Grant Williams and Tacko Fall are under team control through the 2022 season, as well.

All told, the Celtics have three or four capable starters — Williams, Horford, Thompson and Brown — along with a pair of depth pieces on their updated depth chart.

And while that depth could come into play on the trade market, Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens spoke Monday in a post-trade press conference and hinted at the possibility of keeping the group in tact.

Stevens already was brainstorming potential combinations, including a double big lineup with one at power forward and one at center.

“With regard to the bigs, that just becomes a longer discussion without getting into specifics of can guys play together? Can you do the double big thing with certain groups? Are there guys that pair better together?” Stevens said during a video conference. “I do think, for instance, Tristan’s ability to switch and Tristan’s ability to rebound allows him to play with a spacer like Al, who also has a lot of flexibility.

“Rob’s ability to play in the dunker and hitting Al in the seams, and playing with the lob game gives you flexibility. Those are things we’ll have to figure out,” Stevens continued. “That won’t be as much my decision once those times come, once the roster is set. Then I’ll be out of that. Then whoever the coach is can figure out how they want to utilize everybody.”

Williams was extremely productive during the 2020-21 season when he found himself in the starting lineup (13 games). He finished the season averaging 8.0 points with 6.9 rebounds in 52 contests. However, due to injuries which seem to have followed him early in his career, Williams wasn’t always available. So, at the very least, the depth behind him provides comfort incase the 23-year-old misses substantial, or crucial, time in the future.

Stevens was relentless in his praise of Horford, who returns to Boston after leaving the organization in free agency two seasons prior. He complimented Horford extensively for what he brings as a professional, and the impact it could have on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but also acknowledged how his on-court ability makes it easier for others.

“Again, I think that sometimes the ability to space, pass, play in different ways and play in different coverages at the other end, be able to play with other bigs or as the lone 5, I think is something that he just has a wealth of experience (with).”

Stevens explained how Moses was a player the Celtics were “excited to learn more about” and is looking forward to “see how he fits with our group.”

The potential of playing the 7-foot-2, 245-pound Moses alongside 6-foot-8, 237-pound Williams and throwing alley-oop after alley-oop certainly is entertaining to think about, too.

Thumbnail photo via David Richard/USA TODAY Images
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