How the 2024 Boston Celtics title team came to be

Brad Stevens made right move after right move as Boston Celtics PBO
Brad Stevens made right move after right move as Boston Celtics PBO / Steven Ryan/GettyImages

The Boston Celtics are NBA Champions once again.

After 16 long years, Banner 18 is no longer a rallying cry but an accomplished goal, due to the contributions of many players and staff.

In the current 2024 iteration of the Boston Celtics, the team consists of a mix of long-tenured players and staff and some newer acquisitions that gave them the extra push they needed.

It wasn't always pretty, but here is a full timeline of how and when every contributing player and important staff member was brought to the Celtics in the first place,

The trade that started it all for the Boston Celtics

On July 12th, 2013, the Celtics officially blew up their roster, sending Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and other pieces to the Brooklyn Nets for matching salaries and four first-round picks (three unprotected in 2014, 2016, and 2018, one pick swap in 2017). Two of those picks turned into three-time All-NBA First Team Jayson Tatum and Finals MVP Jaylen Brown.

This trade made by former general manager Danny Ainge not only kick-started a rebuild but served as a foundation for the team for years to come. Celtics fans could not have asked for much more out of a trade.

With Tatum still 26 years old and Brown still 27, a potential dynasty is in the works, with a trade from back in 2013 being where it all began.

The mastermind behind it all

Around the same time that the Celtics blew up the roster, they hired Brad Stevens as head coach following trading 2008 Champion Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Stevens was successful as a head coach, winning 57% of his games in 8 seasons. However, it wasn't until he became President of Basketball Operations before the 2021-22 season that the team took off, culminating in NBA Executive of the Year and an NBA championship this year. Danny Ainge was a fantastic GM, but Brad Stevens has somehow done an even better job since Ainge stepped down.

While Stevens was a great coach, his work as general manager has been some of the best in the NBA since his role change. Add to that his impact on the longer-tenured players as a head coach, and a case can be made that Stevens is the most important piece in the 2024 championship puzzle.

The vet

The Celtics haven't been too active in the free agency market over the years, but one of their biggest signings, which they made back in 2016, was Al Horford.

Boston signed Horford to a four-year, $113 million contract, becoming a key contributor in the frontcourt.

After opting out of the fourth year, Horford left for the hated Philadelphia 76ers, but that relationship quickly turned sour, leading to Horford being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a salary dump.

With the Celtics needing to dump a salary of their own, newly promoted PBO Stevens acquired Horford in 2021 in exchange for Kemba Walker and a first-round pick in Stevens' first major move.

Horford, despite currently being 38 years old, managed to be a key piece to the Celtics' success with his elite shooting and defense at the center and power forward spots.

His versatility at both ends has helped unlock the Cs at both ends throughout his time with the team, something other teams just haven't seemed to understand about his game. He's also been a great leader, and teammate, and willing to make sacrifices, including coming off the bench consistently this season for the first time in his 17-year career.

The Finals MVP

The same year that the Celtics signed Al Horford, they used the third overall pick (from the Nets) on Jaylen Brown, a raw wing out of Cal.

The pick at the time was deemed a bit of a reach and many felt the Cs should trade the pick, but in hindsight, that would have been a huge mistake. After a masterstroke trade, Danny Ainge managed to draft the best player in the draft at third overall, a huge accomplishment.

Brown has shown great improvement ever since being drafted, starting at 6.6 points a game and reaching 20 points a game by year four. Brown is now a three-time all-star, made All-NBA Second Team last season, and won Eastern Conference Finals MVP and Finals MVP this year to cap off a great eight years with the Celtics.

The wing has dealt with doubts and criticism his entire career, even when he signed a five-year $300 million+ extension with the Celtics, but Brown has silenced the doubters with another phenomenal season and career boosters of two playoff MVP trophies and a ring.

The superstar

Ainge once again knew better than everyone else somehow when he traded down from the top pick in the draft (from the Nets) in 2017 to acquire the third pick and a future first from the 76ers, which he used to select Jayson Tatum.

Just like the Jaylen pick, Tatum was deemed a slight reach and more likely to be traded than to be a valuable contributor to the team long-term, but Ainge knew better.

Also like Brown, Tatum has improved greatly throughout his career. After 13 points a game and a great playoff run as a rookie, Tatum was averaging 23 points a game by year three, vaulting himself as the top-scoring option when Kyrie Irving left in 2019.

Tatum went on to win Conference Finals MVP in 2022, and had a stellar playoff run this year despite rocky shooting numbers, becoming the sixth player in NBA history to lead his team in points, rebounds, and assists during a championship run.

The psychopath

Joe Mazulla was hired as an assistant coach by the Celtics in 2019, and was thrown into the fire as an interim head coach prior to last season.

He brought the C's to the conference finals last season before making it over the hump this season in just his second year of head coaching.

Only 35 years old, the sky is the limit for the young coach known for his unconventional methods and analytical mindset.

The tooth

Derrick White needing dental work before the championship parade showcases the type of value he has brought to the Celtics ever since they acquired him in 2022 around the trade deadline.

They gave up Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, a protected first and a future pick swap to the San Antonio Spurs, which in hindsight, doesn't feel like much.

White went on to help lead the C's to the finals that season, and was also a huge part of the finals-winning team this season, due to his elite combination of defense, shot blocking, and timely shooting.

White is the perfect role player and should receive a huge extension in the year future to stay in Boston for many more years to come.

The unicorn

Kristaps Porzingis, while struggling to stay healthy, was a huge part in unlocking the Celtics at both ends due to his height and shooting.

He is an elite rim protector, floor spacer, and post player, something the Cs have lacked over the last decade.

He came from the Wizards in a three-team trade at the price of Marcus Smart, the heart and soul of the team all these years, but also gaining two first-round picks with Porzingis was too good of a trade to pass up.

Porzingis turned out to be crucial, seemingly one of the final pieces of the championship puzzle for the Celtics.

The champ

The other final piece of the puzzle who was acquired soon after was Jrue Holiday.

Holiday was originally traded to Portland as part of the Damian Lillard trade to the Bucks but was then shipped to the Celtics for Malcolm Brogdon, Rob Williams, and two firsts.

Holiday's championship experience and consistency at the point guard spot was another element the Celtics desperately needed.

Holiday and White should continue to be the top defensive backcourt in the NBA, and show why Brad Stevens has been the best GM in basketball since his promotion.

I decided to focus on the top six and coach and GM, but so many other people, past and present, contributed to this championship.

People like Ainge, Smart, Isaiah Thomas, and other players currently on the roster like Payton Pritchard, Sam Hauser, Xavier Tillman, and Luke Kornet all deserve credit for what has been built in Boston.

The Celtics will look to do what the 2008 Celtics could not; repeat as champions and form a dynasty, starting with Banner 19.