Steve Pagliuca, Wyc Grousbeck, Jrue Holiday, and Brad Stevens (left to right) at Holiday’s introductory press conference.
Marcus Smart played both an important role as a leader and defensively, and perhaps, most importantly, he lived and died for the Celtics franchise. This is why the Celtics lost a substantial member when they traded Marcus Smart on June 21, 2023. After the trade, the Celtics were left with no preferable point guard. Sure, they could run with Derrick White, but he lacks the locker room leadership role, experience, and defensive hustle that they lost with Smart.
Seeing how the Celtics do not have an advantageous point guard within their team, they needed to look for other possible options. To replace the gap left by Smart, they need a hard worker on defense, a veteran leader, and preferably not a liability on offense. There is no better player to fit this mold in the league than Jrue Holiday.
In Holiday’s introductory press conference on October 4, 2023, it was hard not to be excited as he seemed to have everything the Celtics needed. Holiday says that he will be a perfect fit for the spirit and work ethic that the city of Boston is known for. He said in his introductory press conference, “[Celtics Fans] love people that work hard and put their heart into it and that's just the type of person that I am… They care more about hard work on defense and getting loose balls and stuff like that over maybe windmill dunks and things of that nature, but again that's the type of guy I am. I'm ten toes to the ground and I'm going to push and grind as hard as I can.”
According to Celtics owner, Steve Paglucia, Paul Pierce, former Celtic and Hall of Famer, has never seen a better practice than Holiday's first practice with the Celtics, “There was just an electricity in the gym today, when you get such great players together playing at a high level; and Paul Pierce turned to us and said he's never seen an NBA practice like this his whole entire career that they went that hard that fast for that long.”
It appears that Holiday is the perfect piece to the puzzle. He fits the culture of the city and is able to create a spark with his teammates. In addition to being a great leader and mentor for younger players, Holiday is a two-time All-Star, five-time All-Defensive, three-time Teammate of the Year, and NBA Champion. However, it all comes at a price. In order to obtain Holiday, the Celtics lost Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams and two future first round picks. The loss of Brogdon isn’t much, but the loss of Williams certainly is. The Celtics' top three big men are now Kristaps Porzingis, Al Horford, and Luke Kornet. This leaves the Celtics very backcourt heavy for the upcoming season. This is all not even mentioning how the Celtics lost two first rounders and are now paying 32 million in luxury tax totals, which could be detrimental to their future.
Holiday is quite possibly the best fit you could imagine for the Celtics right now, but was it worth the price he came with? Yes! This is a new league. Long gone are the days of well rounded teams within a reasonable range of the salary cap. Sometimes, you just need to assemble a Big Three in addition to a talented point guard to pave the way to a Championship. Doesn’t this sound familiar?