Amid numerous ex-Celtics players being dealt all across the association, Brad Stevens made some moves of his own. Per reports by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Boston Celtics came to two agreements on deadline day.
Defense was clearly a top priority. Xavier Tillman yesterday. Jaden Springer today. The 2023 G League Finals Most Valuable Player and ex-University of Tennessee standout joins the Celts' bench unit in exchange for a second-round selection. The North Carolina native contributed to 32 contests this season for the Philadelphia 76ers, the ball club that drafted him in the first round in 2021. Under Nick Nurse, Springer has doubled his minutes per game compared to last year, averaging four points, 1.8 rebounds, and 0.8 steals in 11.8 minutes on average each time out.
Stevens then went to work with a ball club he had a history with from the summer, sending out 24-year-old Dalano Banton to the Portland Trail Blazers for a top-55 protected second-round pick according to MassLive. The ex-Toronto guard's time with the Boston Celtics saw him being called upon in garbage time, outside of a few contests at the end of November and the start of December including one in which he started against Atlanta at home. Just five days ago, Banton scored 31 points, netting five threes to go along with six rebounds in a Maine uniform.
According to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe, the ex-76er was "strongly endorsed" by Sam Cassell, and player enhancement coach Tyler Lashbrook who both coached him in Philadelphia. You can see why. In an increased role this season, Springer has amassed eight games with either multiple steals or blocks. In two recent contests, Springer accumulated three-plus steals including a game in Golden State in which he had four. Stephen Curry looked as lost as he had been all season offensively when he came up against the ex-Volunteer. Star or not, the Charlotte native has shown he is capable of defending at an above-average level in the NBA.
Jaden Springer and Xavier Tillman off the bench for Boston Celtics could be crucial in title hopes
Per Cleaning the Glass, the defending G-League steals leader sits in the 98th percentile above at his position in offensive rebounding, steal, and block rate. He is a perfect complement to a star-filled roster like Boston. Sure, he isn't the most efficient of offensive threats, but that athleticism allows him to finish around the rim, particularly in transition.
He is not afraid to call his own number and attack the rack with force, something Boston Celtics fans saw back in November. In that game, in fact, Springer was a plus-20 against Boston, providing a much-needed jolt to the home team. He netted nine points to add to two steals that night. Both of which were strips against Tatum. Including one where he finished the play off with a reverse slam. Just look at that block compilation above. He is not denying non-rotational players either. Springer sent Damian Lillard back on national television earlier in the campaign.
Though Springer's role in Boston is to be determined, there is no question that he'll be a spark whenever called upon. The youngster will likely play behind Derrick White and Sam Hauser at the two, giving some relief for White and Jrue Holiday from their matchups with the opposition's best perimeter scorer.
The deal with the Blazers opens up a spot within Boston's roster to either add via the always intriguing buyout market or promote from inside the organization. Candidates within the buyout market include Joe Harris who was just cut by Detriot, old friend Marcus Morris Sr, and Robin Lopez among others. Stay tuned, Stevens could be up to something else.