Re-grade the trades: Boston Celtics land two All-Stars for 'bag of Lays potato chips'

Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics
Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens did such a good job over the 2023 offseason that Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James believes that the 47-year-old executive acquired two All-Stars, Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday, for a "bag of Lays potato chips."

“Like I said, personnel helps," James said (h/t Sports Illustrated). "Adding [Kristaps] Porziņģis and getting Jrue [Holiday] for a bag of Lays potato chips, that helps as well."

Is that a fair characterization of the trades? Let's re-grade the trades that set the Celtics up for a historic regular season in 2023-24.

Landing Kristaps Porzingis trade a success, but losing team's heart and soul bumps it down to A-

The trade: Celtics acquire Kristaps Porzingis (via Wizards)
, No. 25 pick in 2023 Draft (via Grizzlies)
, 2024 first-round pick (top-four protected, via Warriors), Grizzlies acquire Marcus Smart, Wizards acquire Tyus Jones (via Grizzlies)
, Danilo Gallinari (via Celtics)
, Mike Muscala (via Celtics)
, No. 35 pick in 2023 Draft (via Celtics)

As much as the acquisition of Porzingis has opened up the offense -- giving the Celtics a second floor-spacing big alongside Al Horford who can also protect the rim better than anyone the team has had since the Kevin McHale/Robert Parish era --, the fact that it came at the expense of Marcus Smart makes it hard to grade it an A.

Just yet, at least. Smart was the Defensive Player of the Year for the C's 2022 Finals run and never missed the postseason in a Boston uniform. Having to lose him cannot be considered an A unless the Celtics get over the hump this June.

A championship may even make this move an A+ because taking such a risk defines a team president's tenure. If Brad did the unthinkable and it leads to the unachievable, though, there's no question his legacy in Boston will be secured.

What Boston Celtics gave up to land Jrue Holiday makes trade an A+ move, but if it's a rental it's only an A

The trade: Celtics acquire Jrue Holiday, Trail Blazers acquire Malcolm Brogdon
, Robert Williams III, 2024 1st-round pick (via Warriors)
, 2029 unprotected 1st-round pick (via Celtics)

There's no title caveat on the Holiday trade that makes it such a win, but there is the caveat that if it's only a rental and Holiday signs elsewhere, it's knocked down a peg. That doesn't look particularly likely, though.

The lowest it could be, in any event, is an A. Because what they gave up turned out to be minuscule in the grand scheme.

That's not a knock on either Malcolm Brogdon or Robert Williams III as players, to be clear. Brogdon was a legitimate contributor who nabbed Sixth Man of the Year honors in 2022-23 and The Time Lord helped spearhead the double-big lineup that Ime Udoka deployed to get his the 2021-22 team to the Finals.

But Brogdon was willing to protest playing for the Celtics due to his inclusion in the original Porzingis proposal, per The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn (h/t RealGM), and Williams' injury history, which manifested this season and limited him to just six appearances for the Portland Trail Blazers this season, may have had the Cs a man down in their frontcourt rotation. Given how sturdy the foundation is for the foreseeable future, giving up those draft picks feels insignificant.

That Stevens pulled this move off days before the start of training camp shows that the Celtics have a man in charge of the front office who seemingly refuses to sleep until Boston is hanging Banner 18 from the TD Garden rafters.

Don't expect him to stop working then either. Stevens has supposedly proven the ability to land legitimate contributors for the measly price of Frito-Lay products, so his work will never be done.