BOSTON (CBS) — Brad Stevens is excited for his two new players, Marcus Smart and James Young, and the Celtics head coach is ready to get to work.
Stevens joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Gresh & Zolak on Friday, and said what excites him most about his two new players are their readiness to play in the NBA. Stevens said Smart, who Boston selected sixth overall in Thursday night’s NBA draft, has the body to defend any guard and some forwards. He’s also a big fan of Smart’s ability to play either guard spot.
“What gets lost in the shuffle of what separates guys from other guys is the versatility he brings, especially on the defensive end of the floor,” Stevens said of Smart. “You see a lot of teams set screen-and-rolls with their guards and you can’t switch some twos or some threes. With him you can switch a lot of those. He’s strong enough and tough enough to guard a lot of different guys late in games in different situations. Right now, today, he is ready to do that.”
Speculation began to swirl about a possible Rajon Rondo trade during the draft, given Boston’s now log-jam at both guard positions. But Stevens loves the depth the two picks bring to the team, and says he can see Smart, Rondo and Avery Bradley (a restricted free agent this summer) all playing together in perfect harmony.
“What you’ve got are three guys that have the bodies to guard any one and two, and then Marcus and Avery, and even Rondo, can shift down and guard threes. We have a ton of versatility,” said Stevens. “Marcus is maybe a combination of the two of them in that he can play the one, can play the two, but he can play off the ball or with it. I think we have a lot of options there, and I think it’s great that Marcus will get a chance to learn from older guys. That’s really important; as hyped as we are bout the draft, these guys are 18-20 years old so they have to be led well by the guys in front of them.”
Stevens was asked if he has given any thought at the possibility that Rondo will not be with the team when the season begins, but the C’s coach shrugged that off.
“I don’t think about it that way.” he said. “You’re on your toes for a number of things, but I haven’t put two minutes of thought of Rondo not being here. He’s a guy, as a coach, you want to have around. He’s a good player and has been an easy guy to coach.
“The way I got about it is I look at who is on our team, and you prepare for that. I look at the team with Rondo,” said Stevens.
With Rondo set to hit the open market next summer, Stevens was asked if he would have to sell Boston’s All Star guard on sticking around for a possible rebuilding situation.
“I’m not going to turn into a used car salesman when, at the end of the day, I’m just a basketball coach trying to make our team and help him be the best that he can be,” he said. “From my standpoint all I can do is coach him as hard as I can. He knows I’m putting in the effort to make the team as good as we can be.”
Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck hinted at fireworks earlier this off-season, but those did not come Thursday night. While the Celtics added two talented young players to their roster, Stevens is excited for what else could be coming this summer.
“I’m very curious to see if there are any other changes to the roster as we move forward; what we do in free agency and how this all fits together,” he said. “I feel good about what we have, about our depth at key positions, and we’ll go from there. But right now, I’m excited.”
Hear the full interview: