Brad Stevens told NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg on February 11 when he decided he needed recent trade deadline acquisition Jaden Springer on the Boston Celtics -- and it was pretty recently when the Cs President of Basketball Operation's mind was made up.
“We followed Jaden for a while,” Stevens said (h/t All 76ers). "Jaden went from a guy that I was interested in, to a guy that I was really interested in after our preseason game here when I saw him really defend. Like, really, really defend.
“We have been paying attention as we’ve gone into this trade deadline as he’s been playing more, and the matchups he’s had. My expectation is for Jaden to come in and keep improving. He’s got to improve his offensive game — he’s got to improve his shooting. He has an ability defensively that is really unique. As I said in my media scrum, he’s younger than most of the guys we’re looking at in the draft. I think, ultimately, there’s a lot there.”
Jaden Springer has better chance to crack Boston Celtics rotation than Xavier Tillman
While some may think that the Springer trade has few consequences, the reality is that it won't take much playoff struggles from the likes of Payton Pritchard and Sam Hauser to force Joe Mazzulla's hand and insert the former Tennessee star into his rotation.
Springer could be an important piece for Boston in short order, and it's far more likely that'd happen than Xavier Tillman getting any significant minutes come the playoffs. Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford have a stranglehold on the C's minutes at the 5, but Luke Kornet is ahead of Tillman on the depth chart until further notice. Stevens has long been confident in Kornet, and he's now survived several years of being on the chopping block with his non-guaranteed contract at risk of being cut.
Hopefully, Mazzulla's top eight suffices come playoff time. But if it doesn't, Springer is the more likely deadline acquisition to make an impact, barring any injuries.