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Kristaps Porziņģis appears to have earned his trade with the Boston Celtics.
After a day of uncertainty, the Celtics, Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies agreed on a three-team deal that would also send Marcus Smart to the Grizzlies:
Adrian Wojnarowski @warspn
Washington completed a three-way deal with Boston and Memphis to send guard Tyus Jones to the Wizards, sources told ESPN. https://t.co/tQgoW60nQz
Porziņģis was initially thought to be heading to Boston as part of a three-way deal that would have sent Malcolm Brogdon to the Los Angeles Clippers, but that trade fell through:
Adrian Wojnarowski @warspn
Talks between the three teams regarding the Porzingis-Brogdon deal with the Celtics, Wizards and Clippers have broken down, according to ESPN sources. The sides continue. https://t.co/WoNkOcTYe5
Porziņģis, 27, averaged 23.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 49.8 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three in the 2022-23 season. He would give the Celtics a solid option at the 4 or 5, and someone who can stretch the floor and protect the rim.
This is the latest move in the NBA this offseason, with more likely to follow, although the Celtics cutting bait on Smart was a surprising decision.
This is after the franchise once again failed to reach its goal of winning an NBA title, losing to the Miami Heat in seven games in the Eastern Conference finals.
Claiming the East title and advancing to the 2022 NBA Finals seems to prove how the Celtics don’t have to do anything fancy in pursuit of a championship. They are just two wins away from beating the Golden State Warriors.
Then the 2023 postseason happened.
Boston nearly dropped their conference semifinals series to the Philadelphia 76ers before killing off the Sixers in Game 7. In the middle of the conference finals, it was impossible to ignore the difference between the Heat and Jimmy Butler who rose to the occasion while the Celtics and star forward Jayson Tatum, well, not doing that.
Bleacher Report @Bleacher Report
Jayson Tatum did not score a single FG in the 4th quarter at ECF and committed 5 turnovers.
The Celtics are 0-2 😬 pic.twitter.com/wfkqEUtKFx
This story is now played out under three head coaches (Brad Stevens, Ime Udoka and Joe Mazzulla). It’s clear that Boston’s veteran core can carry through the regular season but has a strong ceiling once the playoffs roll around.
The Toronto Raptors reached a similar point when they kept falling short against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers every year. They traded DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard and immediately became a championship.
In the event that the Celtics don’t want to do something drastic — like trade Tatum or Jaylen Brown — Smart is the most obvious candidate to go.
The 6’3″ guard averaged 11.5 points and 6.3 assists in 2022-23, and he shot better than 40 percent (41.5) for the third time in his NBA career. His .511 that effective field-goal percentage is his second-best ever. , per Basketball Reference.
Despite his limitations as a shooter and scorer, Smart figures to have a strong trade market once Boston is willing to seriously entertain offers. He was a three-time first-team All-Defensive honoree and earned Defensive Player of the Year for 2021-22. The 29-year-old is ready to be a leader behind the scenes and also be accountable to his teammates.
Celtics on NBC Sports Boston @NBCSCeltics
“He’s the type of point guard you want for a team like this.”
– Malcolm Brogdon on his relationship with Marcus Smart
Presented by your New England Ford Dealers pic.twitter.com/XSUE0prHy1 a>
Smart is the kind of tone-setter who can be invaluable for a struggling franchise. He’s basically a more optimized version of Patrick Beverley, with raised the floor for his team on several occasions in the past.
It will be interesting to see if Smart’s departure means more for Boston than you might expect based on his raw numbers. But he could be a great addition to a Grizzlies team with plenty of young talent, adding leadership and defensive intensity to a cocky young contender.