Celtics Notes: Trades, Stevens, Springer, Tillman, Roster

The Celtics made a somewhat surprising trade with a division rival on Thursday, landing third-year guard Jaden Springer from Philadelphia in exchange for a 2024 second-round pick. Speaking to the media on Friday, president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said the former first-round pick was a player they’d been eyeing for a few years, writes Brian Robb of MassLive.com.

We’ve tracked his development pretty closely over the years,” Stevens said. “We liked him in the draft a few years ago. He was the youngest player in that draft. He’s still a puppy. He’s still 21 years old. He was unbelievable in the G League playoffs last year. He’s done a lot of good things against us when he’s been up in Maine. We’ve seen him live several times up there. He’s a guy we’ve been tracking for a while.”

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe hears from a source (Twitter link) that Springer was “strongly endorsed” by a pair of former 76ers assistant coaches who are now with the Celtics — Sam Cassell and Tyler Lashbrook.

He is an athlete that can play athletically in the playoffs, right?” Stevens said of Springer, per Jay King of The Athletic. “But he also has a lot of growing to get better and he’s committed to that. He’s got a long runway ahead. So we’ll see how this year shakes itself out for him. See how it all fits with the team. But he’s a guy that we believe in.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • According to King, Stevens indicated that part of the reason Boston was interested in Springer and Xavier Tillman, the team’s other trade acquisition (from Memphis), is that they’re young players who could develop with the Celtics, who have a chance to retain them long-term. Tillman will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but Boston has his Bird rights, so it will be able to potentially re-sign him without worrying about salary cap limitations. Springer, meanwhile, already had his fourth-year team option exercised, and will be eligible for restricted free agency in 2025 if he doesn’t sign a rookie scale extension in the offseason. The Celtics project to be over the second tax apron next season, when they’ll be more limited in how they can construct their roster due to the new CBA.
  • Stevens said the front office didn’t want to disrupt the team’s chemistry, which is why the Celtics made a pair of relatively minor moves. As with Springer, Tillman was a player they’d liked for quite a while, particularly due to his defensive versatility and basketball IQ. “He competes, he passes, thinks the game well,” Stevens said, per King. “All the stuff that we’ve been fortunate with the guys we have around our best players, that they brought to the table. He knows how to play. So we’re excited to have him.” However, Tillman indicated that he’s still dealing with a left knee injury and has no timetable for his Celtics debut.
  • While Stevens praised two-way center Neemias Queta, who has been viewed as a candidate to be promoted to a standard deal, he said the Celtics aren’t in a rush to fill the opening on their 15-man roster, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. “I don’t know if making that final decision and saying, ‘OK, these are our 15 guys right now with two months left in the season,’ makes a lot of sense. I think we need to utilize this time to evaluate,” Stevens said.
  • The Celtics send the Trail Blazers $3MM in cash as part of their Dalano Banton trade, reports Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).
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