The Celtics midseason acquisition of Grizzlies heart Xavier Tillman will present them with defensive versatility and frontcourt insurance coverage in case Kristaps Porzingis or Al Horford need to miss time.
However past the on-court analytics, the commerce signifies that Lamar Stevens, who spent almost six months in Boston and rapidly grew to become a beloved man within the locker room, is now not a Celtic.
Jayson Tatum stated Stevens’ absence was notable after final evening’s Celtics victory over the Hawks.
I requested Jayson Tatum in regards to the emotional impression of the Celtics dropping Lamar Stevens:
“To get up from my nap earlier and see that he bought traded was robust. The locker room sort of did really feel empty right this moment, coming to the sport and he wasn’t right here.”
— Noa Dalzell (@NoaDalzellNBA) February 8, 2024
“To get up from my nap earlier and see that he bought traded was robust,” Tatum stated. “The locker room sort of did really feel empty right this moment, coming to the sport and he wasn’t right here.”
Joe Mazzulla stated that Stevens took the information of his commerce in stride.
“It’s at all times a tough dialog when guys put a lot time in, and also you get to know them from the start of the 12 months, you see him each single day,” Mazzulla stated. “However he was good about it, and I believe simply the way in which he carries himself, the professionalism that he has — he by no means missed a day.”
Lamar Stevens spent the primary three years of his NBA profession in Cleveland, the place he grew to become a rotation participant. Final season, he began 25 video games, averaged 18.1 minutes an evening, and earned a repute as a gritty defender.
There was hope he would crack the Celtics rotation this season, however apart from for a couple of restricted alternatives, he typically solely noticed the courtroom in blowouts. In all, Stevens performed simply 122 minutes for the Celtics this season, taking pictures 46.7% from the sector and 37.5% from three, albeit in a really restricted pattern measurement.
Nonetheless, Stevens was one of many leaders of the Keep Prepared group, the self-described time period for the end-of-bench gamers who discovered to embrace an unpredictable position that entails being ready to contribute when your quantity known as, but in addition figuring out that as prepared as you’re, a possibility won’t come.
Once I spoke to Lamar Stevens final month, he instructed me he was actually having fun with his time in inexperienced and embracing the teachings he was studying throughout the Keep Prepared group. Guys had been targeted on serving to the crew win, and staying affected person within the course of, one thing he had by no means seen earlier than.
“That is the primary time in my profession I’ve been part of one thing like this,” Stevens stated. “It’s all in regards to the course of – simply having fun with the method, getting higher, and never worrying about when the chance could come or the way it could come, however simply figuring out that every day, you’ve ready your self to the very best of your capability. From there, every thing else will maintain itself.”
His favourite a part of being a Celtic was the unwavering presence of followers on the highway: “It’s like a house sport, and I believe that’s tremendous cool,” he stated. “Even simply taking part in at TD Backyard, our followers are subsequent stage — simply that power, and it’s not even simply once we’re right here. I believe that’s tremendous dope.”
Brad Stevens and Joe Mazzulla have frequently confused the significance of bringing in guys who match the locker room and prioritize successful over their very own private success. It’s a notion that Lamar Stevens wholeheartedly embraced.
“I speak to a few of the guys about that on a regular basis, only for us to have all of the expertise that we do have and for there to be no points, it’s unbelievable,” Stevens stated a month in the past, at a girls’s empowerment occasion he spoke at. “You don’t actually see that that always. Brad did a fantastic job placing the precise group of men round one another, that take pleasure in coming to work, that take pleasure in getting higher, that put successful on the forefront of every thing.”
Stevens’ absence will doubtless be ignored by pundits and analysts provided that he didn’t play a visual position within the crew’s on-court success. However Jayson Tatum nonetheless described him as a “key man on our crew” when reflecting on the commerce final evening.
“Possibly he didn’t play as a lot, however his character, how onerous he labored….” Tatum stated in yesterday’s postgame presser, trailing off. “He was a fantastic teammate, and everyone beloved Lamar. Hopefully at his subsequent cease, he will get a possibility, as a result of he works extraordinarily onerous and we’re going to overlook him.”
Payton Pritchard, who Lamar Stevens instructed me was considered one of his closest associates on the crew, echoed Tatum’s sentiment.
“Lamar is a good teammate, nice particular person, onerous employee, a real professional,” Pritchard stated. “We valued every thing he introduced, want him a lot success. Only a true professional. Confirmed up day-after-day, labored his tail off, he bought higher, by no means complained about something, and was a fantastic teammate.”
Now, Lamar joins a Memphis crew that has been depleted with accidents this season, and might be confronted with elevated minutes, significantly within the close to future.
“I’m excited for him,” Joe Mazzulla stated. “He’s excited for the chance, and I’m comfortable for him.”