BRIGHTON, Mass. — Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics did not envision a scenario in which Jrue Holiday would become available via trade. But when the Portland Trail Blazers acquired Holiday in the blockbuster deal that sent Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks, and then offered Holiday to contenders, Stevens and company knew they had to make a push.

Boston’s president of basketball operations, after all, viewed Holiday as a perfect fit.

“There’s a list of guys in the league that you always think you’ll never have a real chance to get. That you think are perfect fits, that you’d love to be a Celtic,” Stevens said during Celtics media day Monday. “Jrue is one of those guys.”

Boston’s push ultimately concluded when the organization landed Holiday in a trade with Portland on Sunday.

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The price of the acquisition was high, Stevens confirmed while speaking at the Auerbach Center. The Celtics traded Robert Williams, Malcolm Brogdon and a pair of first-round picks, including the Golden State Warriors’ selection in 2024. But real assets need to be traded in order to get real assets.

“You got to pay a good price for things, right? That’s the way it goes,” Stevens said. “We’re trying to win a championship. We’re trying to be as good as we can be. We certainty did (pay a big price) — two picks, two good players. That is a real price. But that’s how good we think Jrue is.”

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Holiday was named a 2023 NBA All-Star, which marked the second time in his career. He averaged 19.3 points and 7.4 assists last season while he shot 47.9% from the field and 38.4% from long range. He also has been an All-Defense honoree five times in his career.

“I mean, everybody can see what he does on the court. He’s a really good player, multiple time All-Star, defense has been well-documented, etc.” Stevens said. “But I think it’s the, he’s an elite teammate, elite competitive character. All of those things.

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“It’s not one that you predict will necessarily have a chance to get. You knew the price is going to be really high. But he’s a guy that we think is a great fit for us, and does so many good things on and off the court for us.”

Stevens went on to reference Boston’s draft capital and said the franchise feels it remains in good shape going forward. He also expressed confidence in Celtics players who might not get as much publicity as those like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kristaps Porzingis, Derrick White and Al Horford.

Stevens said dealing Robert Williams was a very difficult decision. He also noted the inclusion of Brogdon was in order to match finances more than anything. Stevens said he was comfortable entering the season with Brogdon on Boston’s roster, despite the fact the defending Sixth Man of the Year was reportedly frustrated about being involved in trade talks earlier this offseason.

Holiday beat Stevens to the Auerbach Center on Monday morning, though will go through the usual physical before he can take the floor. The Celtics begin training camp on Tuesday.

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Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images