Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens was presented a return he couldn’t reject, and it led to a blockbuster trade less than three weeks on the job.
Stevens met with reporters Monday during a post-trade press conference after the Celtics sent Kemba Walker and a first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday. Boston received Al Horford and 21-year-old center Moses Brown in return from OKC while swapping future second-round picks.
Stevens acknowledged that while it was tough to trade Walker, someone he admired as a player and person, the Thunder offered the best return.
It ultimately was the reason Stevens opted not hold off any longer, despite the fact the Celtics haven’t yet hired a head coach to replace him.
“We talked about everything but there’s, obviously it was an early deal, but I felt like it was the right one. Again, not easy, but the right one,” Stevens said during a video conference. “And we didn’t feel like waiting. Especially with, again, the ability to get a return player of Al’s caliber, experience and leadership — (it didn’t) make sense to wait.”
The return provides Boston financial flexibility both in the short term and future. Walker, 31, was under contract for $70-plus million over the next two years. And while Horford is an overpaid asset himself, Stevens noted his contract is worth “significantly less money.”
“We had to look at, with the idea of moving that first-round pick this year, it gave us the opportunity to look at a road ahead with a few more options from a financial flexibility standpoint,” Stevens said. “And it was the best deal that we thought (the Celtics could get) with regard to returning players.”