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Brad Stevens Explains Why He Traded Kemba Walker

Brad Stevens crossing his arms.

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 11: Head coach Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics looks on during a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden on February 11, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Brad Stevens made a huge splash early in his tenure as the Boston Celtics' director of basketball operations, trading All-Star guard Kemba Walker mere days after taking over.

Speaking to the media on Monday, Stevens told reporters that he still likes Kemba. But he found the opportunity to become more flexible from a financial standpoint by trading him was too good to pass up.

“It is difficult… because I really like Kemba — period, like, end of story,” Stevens said, via NBC Sports Boston. “He is a super likable person. And, again, I think the deal was made… We had to look at, with the idea of moving that first-round pick this year, it gave us the opportunity to look at a road ahead with a few more options from a financial flexibility standpoint. And it was the best deal that we thought (the Celtics could get), with regard to returning players."

Stevens also spoke glowingly of Al Horford, a player the Celtics acquired in the Thunder trade. He feels that the addition of Horford and the financial relief makes the trade worthwhile for the team.

“The opportunity to add Al, who makes significantly less money but is a really good player that has corporate knowledge of this environment, that is really excited to be back in Boston and has a good feel for not only playing with our guys, but also has made them better. And I think that his ability to pass, his ability to play a couple of positions, but certainly stretch the floor against bigs... His impact on others and his ability to lift others is one of his great strengths. To have the ability to get that in return and gain financial flexibility moving forward… the cost was a person that you really, really like and one first-round pick.”

Brad Stevens stepped down as the Boston Celtics head coach on June 2, following the resignation of longtime team executive Danny Ainge. Just over two weeks later, he pulled the trigger on the Kemba Walker trade.

Stevens sent Walker, a 2021 first-round draft pick and a 2025 second-round draft pick to the Thunder in exchange for Horford, Moses Brown and a 2023 second-round pick.

The Celtics have yet to name their new head coach. But whoever Brad Stevens hires for the job is going to have their work cut out for them now that their third-leading scorer is gone.

Do you agree with Brad Stevens' reason for trading Kemba Walker?