Jay King had a great interview with Brad Stevens in the Athletic. He talks about the trade deadline, the Schroder conundrum, and Ime's performance, and more. It's behind a paywall and I am choosing to share it as a subscriber. Here it is.
EDIT: As requested, I have edited the full interview Jay King had with Brad. The full interview can be found at https://theathletic.com/3073974/2022/01/17/brad-stevens-1-on-1-celtics-gm-talks-trade-deadline-dennis-schroders-future-and-evaluating-coach-ime-udoka/
Below are excerpts from an interview that Jay King had with Brad Stevens that was published on the Athletic, of which I have a subscription. I am sharing parts of the interview that I thought were interesting.
Jaylen and Jayson's fit
Well, I think, first of all, all that chatter is obviously when your team is .500 and you go back and forth and we havenít found any real consistency, the obvious bit of attention usually goes to the highest-profile people and the best players. At the end of the day, I think theyíre by far the least of my concerns. If you look at it kind of in totality of what those guys have done in their first five years and six years in the NBA, I think that thereís a reason to just take a step back and just remember how unique and good they are, and continue to try to find our best way as a group to help complement them. And they need to continue to improve, thereís no doubt about that. But theyíve shown no reason for anyone not to think they will.
I just think itís such a different step going from a good young player to a player that can impact in the playoffs, which they both did at a really young age, to a really good starter, to an All-Star. Even the next step might be the hardest, taking that next step into the realm where youíre talking about the 10 to 15 best guys in the league who just do it every single minute of every single game, you just know when you turn on the TV what theyíre going to do. And in a day and age where the versatility of your team is really, really important ó because youíve gotta be able to extend defensively out to 25 feet on almost every guy on almost every possession, and youíve gotta be able to both shoot it and drive it and score in a variety of ways Ė those two guys make a lot of sense to build around.
Surrounding the Jays with players to make them better
I think itís been interesting. I do think weíre a better shooting team than weíve shot. And I think it helps when you have all of your guys there, just everybodyís a little bit more open. And then thereís a couple of guys that I do think can shoot that will help us that havenít played as much. Youíre starting to see Payton (Pritchard) play more extended time as a result of some of the injuries, and Iím guessing that when we have everybody back that time will continue, just because he was struggling earlier in the year but heís obviously not now. Heís playing great. I donít think weíre as bad of a shooting team as we shot during that stretch, but thatís a big part of what we need to be able to focus on is just continuing to create good shots and then have guys step up and knock them in confidently.
If there is a need as far as a very short-term need that we would look to address ó and again, you do it either by looking at your bench and figuring out rotation tweaks or you do it by small deals ó then that would be something that weíll certainly look at from a shooting standpoint. Defensively, I feel pretty good about where weíre at overall. I think our record is .500. Our point differential suggests we should be a little better than that. And I think that thatís probably due ó not probably ó itís definitely due to the close games. But weíve played better as of late in those scenarios. So thatís good. But I would say shooting would be the part where we can do a better job of accentuating those guysí strengths.
Inconsistency in close games
I just think weíre inconsistent throughout the whole year, but weíre inconsistent throughout a game. I mean, itís like wild swings to me. And certainly, in the fourth quarters you see that when the screws get tightened on both sides or it just becomes harder to score, it just becomes harder to do things that you have to be able to execute, perform and be up to that moment. I think weíve shown capabilities not only throughout this early part of the year, but last year as well.So we just have to become a little bit more consistent, focus on doing your jobs as well as you can, execute perfectly on every possession on both sides of the ball and let the chips fall where they may.
But I think that the bottom line is everybody can do better. And again, that starts with we can accentuate each other better, we can just be more consistent as a group. And I think we will improve. Iíve been encouraged (recently). (Saturday nightís win against the Bulls) was encouraging, but the wild swings throughout the game in the first 40 minutes were not. And then the Indiana game, same thing. The one we won at home, we didnít play well in that game, but Tatum made a great play to tie it, we showed good poise throughout down the stretch and then in overtime we played well. So those are encouraging because you have to see the ball go in and you have to feel good about yourself.
I think heís been good. Iíve told him this several times: Heís been through pretty much everything that you can go through as a head coach in Boston already. Right? Except for maybe like a 10-game winning streak, which then you just see how wildly outlandish the praise gets. Itís like, donít get too high when that happens and donít get too low when it feels like nothingís going right and everybodyís down. I think you just have to navigate that journey in that manner. And thatís what Iíve been most impressed with is heís very consistent. When things donít go well, he goes back to the film room, he looks at it, he goes back to work, his staff goes back to work. I think heís done a good job of communicating and done a good job of creating and developing relationships.
I get to make those decisions over time with this job. Heís got to make those decisions right away, quickly, in the moment, and be decisive, and make sure itís the right one with a lot of moving parts. So I have a great deal of respect for how hard that job is. But I have a great deal of belief that heís the right guy. And when you go through it, each moment just adds to you being even better in the next moment.
Adjusting to front office
The biggest part of the learning curve is how many people Iíve worked with for so long have done all the things that go into the daily operations of a professional basketball team, like, just how much goes into it, how many people are doing their jobs really, really well to try to help you have success in the margins. And Iím just really impressed by all the people around me. Itís complicated stuff when you start getting into the salary caps and the flexibility issues and those types of things that you have to figure out as youíre trying to hopefully build towards being in the mix to compete for that next banner.
We have a good idea of some of the things that we will look at, that we will pursue. We obviously will be active in both calling and answering. And every decision that we make, the question that we have to ask is, ďDoes this make sense in this one deal to do to give us the best chance to be in the mix for competing for a banner?Ē Thatís it. Thatís the driving force in each one. So each deal would be its own separate entity in that, but at the same time thatís the north star.
First of all, heís done a really good job. Heís had a good year, heís done a really good job. As I told him in August, I wanted him to come here and be the best version of himself. And heís done that. And I would never get into specifics about different guys as we get closer to that because I wouldnít want people to misread that from a context standpoint.
This season's bright spots
I think everybody has shown great capability. Especially if you take the best of our top eight or nine rotation players, theyíve all had terrific moments. But I just think collectively we can play a little bit better. Everybodyís talked about Jayson and Jaylen ó and rightfully so, theyíre our two best players. I think (Marcus) Smartís last month and a half has been really good. Dennis and Josh (Richardson) have given us good boosts. Al (Horford) hasnít shot it as well as he wants to, but I think has certainly solidified our defense.
And I think the guy that just keeps ascending, which you could see this coming over the last couple of years ó really ever since our practices in the bubble, I thought thatís when he took just a totally different look and step ó is Rob Williams. Iím so encouraged by his progress. When people talk about guys that are about the team, guys that only want to win, that usually you know exactly what youíre getting, I think that Rob is at the top of that list. And I think our last six games, since we lost the New York game, heís been awesome.
Payton Pritchard, Aaron Nesmith and Romeo Langford
When I was coaching, I used to say this all the time: Just because somebodyís not playing minutes doesnít mean theyíre not improving. And I think thatís huge. And I think Rob Williams is the greatest example. Rob didnít play much his first year, played a little bit his second year but was hurt for 50 games, played in one series out of three basically against Toronto, and now has taken two years later a step thatís pretty drastic as far as he can be a guy that can really, really help you win not only in the regular season but beyond. And I think we have to look at these guys as not only what they do in their minutes, but what theyíre doing in practice, what theyíre doing in the small group work. I believe in all three of them. Payton has gotten a lot more opportunity lately. Romeo got a lot more opportunity early. Romeoís last game was one of his best, or the last game that he played a lot of minutes, the Phoenix game. And then Paytonís been pretty consistent. And I have no doubt about Aaron. Like, I donít lose any sleep over what he can be. And he is in a little bit of a pinch numbers-wise with the guys we have. And weíll see how that all shakes itself out. But regardless of if he plays zero minutes or 25 minutes, heís going to have a successful career. Heís going to be a really good player.
The original article is at https://theathletic.com/3073974/2022/01/17/brad-stevens-1-on-1-celtics-gm-talks-trade-deadline-dennis-schroders-future-and-evaluating-coach-ime-udoka/