Is Brogdon right to be “angry” with the Celtics?
Last summer, the Boston Celtics acquired Malcolm Brogdon. The narrative heading into that offseason was that the front office needed to add another ball-handler. Boston needed someone who could break down a defense, create their own shot, and create for others when things stagnated.
Brogdon was the ideal candidate. Many of the fanbase had been dreaming of his addition for years. Brogdon came with some baggage, though. Despite his undoubted potential, the veteran guard has consistently struggled to stay healthy throughout the season.
Brad Stevens had sold Brogdon on the concept of accepting a bench role. Brogdon saw the upside and agreed to a move that saw him become the Celtics’ sixth man.
“When the trade happened, I talked to Brad Stevens, and they told me straight up, ‘you’re going to be coming off the bench,” Brogdon told TNT after winning the Sixth Man of the Year award. “We have a formula here. We have something that works. We think you can be a key piece and really help us, but your role is going to be coming off the bench.’ And I chose to embrace that.”
Last season was the first time in Brogdon’s career that he wasn’t part of a starting rotation. It was also his first healthy season since his rookie year. The two factors certainly appear to be linked. Yet, when the Eastern Conference Finals rolled around, the injury bug bit him once again.
Suffering a partial tear in the tendon of his right elbow, Brogdon struggled to produce at the level we had seen from him throughout the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs. As Boston limped away of their conference finals matchup against the Miami Heat, it was clear his addition had elevated Boston’s bench unit, but there were still problems that needed addressing.
So, Stevens swung for the fences. Shortly after the free agency period began, Stevens moved to acquire Kristaps Porzingis in a three-team deal. The original outline reportedly saw Brogdon heading to the LA Clippers. The Clippers got cold feet and pulled out of the deal in the 11th hour, with many believing Brogdon’s injury issues were a key factor. Stevens scrambled to keep the deal alive and, ultimately, traded Marcus Smart to Memphis instead.
Since then, we’ve heard multiple reports of a disgruntled Brogdon after being included in trade talks. Head coach Joe Mazzulla has spoken of a “period of healing.” More recently, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe reported that Brogdon is “angry” with the team.
“Malcolm’s the one I’m concerned about too, because we’ve heard nothing, and he’s angry with the team,” Washburn said on CLNS Media’s “Celtics Beat” podcast. “I don’t think communication between the two sides has been fruitful.”
Should Brogdon be angry, though?
13-year NBA veteran Antonio Daniels doesn’t appear to think so:
“As an organization, you have to do what’s in your best interest. And, as a player, it’s your job to adjust to that,” Daniels said on a recent episode of NBA Radio.” “…If I’m Malcolm Brogdon, I have to understand this. I’m not saying I have to like it. But I’m at a point now that I should understand; this is what the NBA is. It’s a business first. It’s a business before anything else…I also have to understand that my situation can change; that’s the business side.”
For Brogdon, he likely sees it as he took a reduction in role, played at an elite level, gave the Celtics a legitimate chance of winning a championship, and earned the 2023 Sixth Man of the Year Award. Brogdon sacrificed for the good of the team and the team benefitted because of that sacrifice.
However, from Boston’s standpoint, they put Brogdon in a position to remain healthy and play a defined role. The veteran wasn’t tasked with being a playmaker. Instead, he was tasked with spearheading the Celtics second unit’s offense. Brogdon’s role was simple — score the ball. Boston managed Brogdon’s minutes. They put him in a position to succeed, and then they looked to leverage his increased trade value by moving him for a star big man. It’s a business after all.
On the latest episode of the Green With Envy podcast, we debated whether Brogdon should still be angry after having three months to process the failed trade and come to terms with the fact he was almost moved.
“It’s not like we were sending him to a s******* team. They were still giving him an opportunity to live out the rest of his contract extension which he signed,” Greg Maneikis said. “The other thing is that Brogdon committed to the team. He has that extension. So I think with Brogdon, it’s like, ‘dude, we weren’t sending you to the Atlanta Hawks. You’re getting to go to LA. You get to play with Kawhi [Leonard] and PG [Paul George.] They’ve got a great coach out in LA in Ty Lue. You’re living in Angeles. Like, it would have been ok for you.’”
In truth, Brogdon likely had every right to feel aggrieved. However, enough time has now passed that the veteran should be ready to go once training camp begins. Perhaps there will be some trust issues moving forward, and that would be fair. But coming into training camp angry at what happened isn’t going to help anybody. If anything, Brogdon was a victim of his own success. The best way to prove the Celtics were wrong for trying to trade him is for Brogdon to build on last season and have an even better year this time around.
Yes, Brogdon had a right to be angry. He had a right to feel insulted. Nevertheless, he’s still a Celtic, an important one at that. Hopefully, when the preseason begins in early October, any lingering resentment or unaddressed issues can quickly be resolved so everyone can focus on making a run toward Banner 18.