NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg believes that Joe Mazulla playing seldom-used Boston Celtics offseason signing Lamar Stevens is one of the most surprising aspects of the C's 2023-24 season thus far.
"The fact that Lamar Stevens has played only 60 minutes this season might be the most surprising aspect of Boston’s playing time distribution this year," Forsberg prefaced before saying, "The four-year veteran appeared in 62 games for Cleveland last year, starting 25 of them, but hasn’t gotten much of a chance in Boston. Like Banton, he has one spot start but that was the only game of the year he reached double figures in playing time (11 other appearances of 8:32 or less)."
Along with Dalano Banton, Luke Kornet, and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Stevens is likely to have his contract guaranteed. But as Forsberg notes, the possibility of them getting traded by the February 8 deadline looms.
"...with one available roster spot already, it feels like the nonguaranteed quartet of Kornet, Mykhailiuk, Banton, and Lamar Stevens should feel secure in their spots," Forsberg prefaced before saying, "
Whether some of those players could be trade pieces if Boston elects to make a deadline move is another story. The audition starts now."
Lamar Stevens endorsed Brad Stevens and Joe Mazzulla despite minimal playing time
In many ways, Stevens not getting more of a shot despite admirably and successfully stepping in as a fill-in center, yes, at six-foot-six, center, against the Orlando Magic on December 15 is befuddling. As Forsberg noted, Stevens was mostly a starter in Cleveland, mostly due to injury woes and stunted development from Isaac Okoro, but a starter nonetheless.
"His honesty – just how real he is with the players," Stevens said of Mazzulla. "He talks about issues before they actually become issues. He just addresses them head-on. He’s always just thinking one step ahead, he’s not just in the moment. He’s thinking about two or three different ways that somebody might guard an action, or how they might guard this action in the playoffs, stuff like that. He’s always one step ahead of our opponents. That’s been huge for us to have the success that we’ve had."
"Brad did a great job putting the right group of guys around each other, that enjoy coming to work, that enjoy getting better, that put winning at the forefront of everything," Lamar Stevens prefaced about Brad, the man who gave him a shot in Boston, before saying, "It’s definitely a unique team. It’s really cool to be a part of, for everyone to put that pride to the side."
If the Boston Celtics could continue crushing opponents like they did Danny Ainge's Utah Jazz on January 5 (126-97) and the San Antonio Spurs on New Year's Eve (134-131) then perhaps Stevens could get more of a chance to prove himself on a team he clearly enjoys being on.