Brad Stevens explains why Celtics didn’t trade up in 2022 NBA Draft

Few expected fireworks from the Boston Celtics in the 2022 NBA Draft, but Brad Stevens and co. didn’t even light a sparkler Thursday night.

Despite rumors they might trade in the first round, the Celtics stayed pat, fielding their only pick (No. 53 overall) against Alabama guard JD Davison. In a post-draft press conference, Stevens admitted that the C’s at least discussed swinging a draft night trade before staying in place.

“We’ve talked about moving up, but parting with significant players on our team or leveraging our TPEs (traded player exceptions) and other assets wasn’t something we wanted to do at the moment,” the basketball operations president said Celtics to reporters.

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A report suggested Boston — who sold their 2022 first-round winner to the San Antonio Spurs as part of a trade in Derrick White — was interested in the Golden State Warriors’ No. 28 pick. Another report mentioned Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard as rotation players that the Celtics could potentially part ways with to gain a first-round player.

However, as the draft unfolded, Stevens and his associates could not find a quid pro quo that justified the abandonment of their core assets.

“The cost of moving up was just too high for our position (53rd place), whether that was in the 20s or even the 30s or the low 40s,” said Stevens. “We were given a list of guys that we were comfortable with and throughout the day we had a few guys who were still on our board to choose from.”

The Celtics’ inactivity on draft night is not surprising. While Boston needs to improve its bench, this core group came close to just two wins of an NBA championship and should remain largely intact for next season. So it makes sense to stick with players who’ve been here before, rather than throwing a rookie into the mix, unless there was a first-round prospect that the Celtics really liked and the 2022-23 something immediately could cause.

That doesn’t mean Boston will remain quiet throughout the offseason, however. The Celtics have several TPEs (including one valued at $17.1 million) that they can use to acquire talent through trade and strengthen their roster.

“We know who fits into this TPE and who might be available. Now it’s about the cost,” Stevens explained. “We decided tonight that we hadn’t found anything to use the TPE for. But things are just beginning.”

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