The day before the NBA Draft is always red hot with trade and free agency rumors. Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium threw us for a loop when he broke the following scoop:
Sources: Wizards, Celtics and Clippers are in strong talks on a trade that would send Kristaps Porzingis to Boston, Marcus Morris and draft compensation to Washington and Malcolm Brogdon to Los Angeles. Sides are still working through details and Porzingis’ $36M player option.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 21, 2023
In an accompanying report for The Athletic, with contributions from Charania, as well as Jared Weiss, Josh Robbins, Law Murray and Jay King we learned that:
“Boston would also need to send out additional salary, with Danilo Gallinari’s expiring $6.8 million closing the gap to reach the salary matching threshold....
Ever since the Wizards agreed to trade Bradley Beal, it’s been obvious that the franchise’s new decision-makers want to rebuild....
A trade involving Porziņģis certainly indicates that tearing the roster down to the studs is the direction that Wizards’ brass wants to take.”
In a follow up Tweet, Charania added that “The Clippers are expected to trade No. 30 in Thursday’s NBA Draft to the Wizards as part of this three-team trade, sources said. Washington nets a first-rounder for aiding Porzingis opt in-and-trade.”
Before the Wizards traded Bradley Beal to the Suns it was reported by the Athletic’s Robbins and David Aldridge that the Wizards were offered multiple first-round picks by the Miami Heat for the St. Louis native.
Washington apparently had the green light from Beal (per Barry Jackson of Miami Herald) that he was willing to waive his no trade clause for a potential blockbuster that would have landed him with Jimmy Butler and co. in South Beach.
But according to Dan Devine of Yahoo Sports, “the Heat (perhaps preferring to keep their powder dry for an even bigger target who may hit the market) never made the Wizards an offer that Washington liked better than the one on the table from Phoenix.”
Why? As David Aldridge reported “The Wizards wanted to have all Beal Business off of their books in 12 months.” And reporting from Ira Winderman of South Florida Sun Sentinal supports Aldridge’s version of events.
Remember, Duncan Robinson’s contract is not expiring; perhaps that, and the fact Miami didn’t want to include Tyler Herro for Beal, was the ultimate sticking point.
So without any incoming first round capital for Beal, it sounds as if the Wizards were looking to nab some picks, while truly tearing things down.
This move would allow them to do just that. Without Beal, without Porzingis, winning will be especially challenging in D.C. Washington forward Kyle Kuzma is also a free agent and may now see the writing on the wall as he considers his own future.
For the Clippers, acquiring Brogdon, as injury prone as the 76ers killer has been, is a big-time upgrade over Marcus Morris.
And as for the 76ers dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, Porzingis is a major upgrade over Brogdan. So this really seems like a win-win-win deal, and that certainly won’t have Daryl Morey doing many cartwheels in celebration.
KP does not come without injury risks himself, as the Latvian has battled a host of knee ailments, including a torn ACL, throughout his now eight-year career. But the original “Unicorn” turns 28 years old this August, and may still have his best years ahead of him.
In 2022-2023, KP posted the most minutes per game, and most total games played since tearing his knee while with the Knicks, in a collision with Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, now six seasons ago. This season, Porzingis averaged a career high 23.2 points per game, a career high 0.9 steals, to go with 8.4 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks, while connecting on 38.5 percent from distance.
Adding the versatile big (former President Danny Ainge long sought during his time in Green) to a front court already equipped with Al Horford and Robert Williams, two players who gave the Sixers fits during the playoffs, would give the Celtics a much more formidable front-court rotation.
It would also allow head coach Joe Mazzulla the chance to load manage each high injury- risk big along the way during the regular season grind. That should increase the odds they’ll all be healthy for a deep playoff run.
Porzingis can stretch the floor, which could pull Joel Embiid away from the rim when he’s on defense. And KP can protect the rim himself, making it difficult for drivers to finish over him.
The rich look like they’ll soon be getting richer. Boston already enjoys the best title odds in the East over on DraftKings at +500. And because Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have not yet signed their (likely) pending supermax contracts, Boston can still afford a Big Three model for another season, without committing fully before they’ve seen it mesh on the parquet floor. Unlike the Phoenix Suns, having a pair of star players on rookie-max deals, isn’t quite as pricey.
Many teams seem really scared of the new CBA restrictions. But at least a couple in Boston and Phoenix, appear willing to spend big in order to increase their championship odds.
Daryl Morey, you’re up next!