After their most successful season in half a decade, the Boston Celtics completely remade their roster this offseason.
The price of bringing in All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward? Replacing four players in the starting lineup, leaving only Al Horford to carry the green flag from the first Celtics team to reach the Eastern Conference Finals since the strike-shortened 2011-12 season.
One person the Celtics will be leaning on a lot more in 2017-18: sophomore Jaylen Brown.
The eruptive 20-year-old wing could find himself in the starting lineup or as one of the first guys off the bench following the departures of Jae Crowder (via the Irving trade), Avery Bradley (via a trade for Marcus Morris), and Gerald Green.
In an interview with Complex, Brown didn’t sound too enthused by the roster upheaval, particularly the trade that landed Boston the point guard from the Cleveland Cavaliers team that had ousted the Celtics in the 2017 playoffs:
It changes the whole dynamic, the whole culture. We’ll see if it’s for good or bad, time will tell. But it’s still a little weird to me, to be honest, because when I came in everything they stressed was culture, environment, Celtic basketball. Now, it’s like what is the environment, the culture, what is Celtic basketball? I think it’s a great opportunity for me, great opportunity for the Celtics, great opportunity for Kyrie. Obviously, I loved [Isaiah Thomas]. He was like a big brother to me. I watched him, admired him, the chip he carried on his shoulder I love him. I still do. I’ve kept in contact with him. Congratulated him when he got traded to the Cavs. It’s tough because it’s the business we live in. Do I agree with it? Not necessarily. I think Isaiah definitely tried to plant his flag in Boston. He will definitely be missed—he and Jae [Crowder] both. And Avery [Bradley], too. Those three guys are truly going to be missed. I love them and I thanked all of them for helping me out and said I’d see them down the line.
The trade apparently had an emotional impact on just about everyone involved.
The Cavaliers have made some salty allusions to loyalty since Irving’s trade request came to light, Irving has shared some pretty icy thoughts about LeBron James, and Thomas hasn’t been shy about airing his grievances with the Celtics.
This was on Isaiah Thomas’ Instagram story. 👀 pic.twitter.com/EV2Q5SfVqg
— NBA SKITS (@NBA_Skits) October 4, 2017
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has managed to get the most from the team’s talent since his arrival in 2013. But rebuilding around two already established stars is a new challenge for him, and his ability to do so will determine whether the Celtics can outpace the Washington Wizards and challenge the Cavs in a weak Eastern Conference.