Boston Celtics

Brad Stevens identifies one potential Celtics need at trade deadline

"It's a very small group of people. But we're going to exhaust it."

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Brad Stevens has every reason to be pleased with his work so far.

After adding Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday to an already-talented roster, the Boston Celtics' president of basketball operations has watched his team race out to an NBA-best 26-7 record through Thursday. The Celtics are current betting favorites to win the 2024 title, and all five of their starters were in the top 10 at their position in the league's first All-Star voting returns.

But is there another move that Stevens can make between now and the Feb. 8 NBA trade deadline to fortify his roster?

"I think every year around this time, you're looking at, OK, how do we improve to give ourselves our best chance?" Stevens told reporters Thursday at the Celtics' practice facility. "There's different ways to do it. Obviously you can improve from within, and we can get better at what we do on both ends of the court and hopefully make strides individually and how we fit together. And then you can improve from free agency or trades or whatever."

Stevens suggested his preferred path is to have players on the current roster step up and fill necessary roles. But he did identify one position on his wish list over the next 30-plus days.

"I would like to continue to see how we can find another big wing or so that can help us," Stevens said. "I think that could be from within, and I also think that we'll continue to monitor free agency and trades. But again, the difference (between) this year and maybe other years is our tools are pretty limited from a dollar standpoint."

The Celtics don't have much financial wiggle room, with Grant Williams' $6.2 million traded player exception as their only path to acquiring real talent. But Stevens says he has full support from ownership to spend to improve the team.

"(We have the) green light to do whatever we need to do, for sure," Stevens said. "And that TPE, I mean, that's the really the number one tool we have ... to add somebody, but that's $6.2 million, right? So there's a small number of people -- a lot of the people that are in that were signed to minimum or smaller contracts, or are on their rookie scale deals that teams aren't exactly excited to move on from yet.

"So, it's a very small group of people. But we're going to exhaust it. We're going to look at it. And I think it's about OK, who can come in have the self-awareness to add to the group and the talent to add to the group?"

Sam Hauser has been a solid rotation player at the wing behind Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but reserves Oshae Brissett, Dalanto Banton, Lamar Stevens and Svi Mykhailiuk haven't made many significant contributions to date if Stevens wants to pursue additional wing depth.

It's possible Stevens doesn't find a better option on the trade market, but if a low-cost wing such as Atlanta's Saddiq Bey or Toronto's Otto Porter Jr. becomes available, that might be Stevens' one chance to improve the roster externally entering the home stretch of the season.

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