Robert Williams was an undeniable talent who Boston Celtics fans adored for his high-flying highlights. But with an arms race in the Eastern Conference heating up, Celtics president of basketball operations had to trade a meaningful asset to acquire a good player.

It was the right move in the pursuit of Banner 18.

The Celtics on Sunday acquired veteran guard Jrue Holiday from the Portland Trail Blazers, as first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Boston dealt Williams, Malcolm Brogdon, Golden State’s 2024 first-round pick and a 2029 unprotected first-rounder to land the veteran guard. Boston beat out “several” teams for Holiday, per Wojnarowski.

Holiday was shipped to Portland on Wednesday in the blockbuster trade that resulted in Damian Lillard landing with the Bucks. Milwaukee jumped Boston as the favorite to win the Eastern Conference with that move. The Celtics and Bucks now are tied with the shortest odds to win the East and 2024 NBA Finals.

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Stevens and company have made the franchise’s all-in push crystal clear.

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If you look at the big picture, this offseason the Celtics ultimately replaced Marcus Smart, Grant Williams, Robert Williams and Brogdon with Kristaps Porzingis and Holiday. Their depth will take a hit and they are relying on Porzingis to remain healthy.

But Holiday now fills the void Smart left. With Lillard in the conference, a tenacious, ball-hawking defensive presence is a meaningful role.

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Let’s not forget: Derrick White remains in Boston after arguably the best season of his career. The addition of Holiday very well could give the Celtics the best defensive backcourt in the league with those two. And, again, that’s after trading Smart.

Boston’s closing lineup in meaningful playoff minutes is as strong as anyone’s.

The reason Robert Williams feels like the bigger of two departures is due to his tenure and the fact Brogdon reportedly was unhappy with the organization. Boston included Brogdon in initial trade talks for Porzingis before having to shift gears when a Brogdon-led deal fell through. Those talks, and how the Celtics handled the elbow injury Brogdon suffered in the 2023 NBA playoffs, reportedly played into his discontent with the franchise. While Stevens and others tried to play it off, the awkwardness is not difficult to imagine. It very well could have come down to Stevens playing damage control. If so, he made great use of a distressed asset.

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There certainly are questions that remain.

Boston’s depth at center is a weak spot, and it will need help in the front court. It’s also unlikely Stevens traded that package for one season of Holiday, who has a player option next season, which means a contract extension could be down the road. After that, the Celtics almost certainly will have a massive sum of their payroll tied to Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Porzingis and Holiday. It’ll force them to bargain shop to fill out other spots on the roster.

But with all that said, and with the disappointment of Robert Williams’ departure understandable, Stevens made the right move for the near future of the Celtics. They needed a shake-up this offseason. Holiday’s arrival is the latest unexpected example of that.

Featured image via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images