Celtics team President Brad Stevens made a big play for Kristaps Porzingis. Originally, Shams Charania reported that the “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.”
But Porzingis would need to formally opt in to the final year of his deal to make it work. If he opted out his $36M player-option, he would have become a free agent and the Celtics wouldn’t have had the cap space to sign the Latvian star.
(Most likely, there wasn’t a max contract awaiting him or he would have opted out).
KP opting out was exactly what many of us Sixers fans were hoping would happen, fearing the 7’3’’ floor-spacer, who will turn 28 in August, would wind up on the Celtics.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski spoke on SportsCenter about the potential collapse of the original framework involving Malcolm Brogdon going to L.A., with less than an hour to go before the Porzingis opt in deadline:
So the Clippers were out of the deal.
Marc Stein was all over it, tweeting: “Concerns raised by the Clippers about Malcolm Brogdon’s injury status, league sources say, led to the collapse of the three-team trade expected to send Kristaps Porzingis to Boston before midnight tonight. A direct Wizards/Celtics deal has not been ruled out.”
Then apparently, Stevens pivoted, calling the Memphis Grizzlies and checking their temperature on acquiring 2022 Defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Smart.
They were in. And the deal got hashed out.
So here’s the framework:
- Boston gets Porzingis, the No. 25 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft later Thursday, and a 2024 first-round pick (via Warriors), both of those coming from Memphis
- Memphis gets Marcus Smart from Boston
- Washington gets: No. 35 pick in Thursday’s draft, Danilo Gallinari, and Mike Muscala (all from Boston) and Tyus Jones from Memphis
In case you spotted it, you’re correct, the poor Washington Wizards couldn’t get a first round pick for either Bradley Beal or Kristaps Porzingis. Maybe they can finally land one by trading Jones or Chris Paul, the latter of whom they acquired in the Bradley Beal mega-deal with Phoenix.
Boston losing Marcus Smart will no doubt delight a few of you long-suffering Sixers fans. He has been an integral member of the Celtics, and helped them build, arguably, the best defense in the NBA over the last two seasons.
He’s also the scariest player to face when your team is old and a bit injury prone:
Marcus Smart diving straight into the knee of PJ Tucker.— Barstool Philly (@BarstoolPhilly) May 4, 2023
Wouldn't expect anything different from himpic.twitter.com/wn1CYpQ17j
Still, he really hurt the Sixers at times in the playoffs:
But make no mistake, if Porzingis can continue his recent trend of health, and continue to put years behind the worst of his knee injuries (maybe not a small if) this is a really great haul for the Green and White. They still have Derrick White to take over that Smart role.
This past season KP played 65 games. That was his most since his second year in the NBA, back in 2016-2017, before his torn ACL.
Brad Stevens really landed Kristaps Porzingis and 2 first-round picks for Marcus Smart— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) June 22, 2023
Insane haul pic.twitter.com/OA2NikqCV1
Adding the draft capital on top, potentially gives Boston even more low-cost help to build around what’s surely about to become one of the priciest cores in the NBA down the road.
On the other hand, they might not be done wheeling and dealing. They have more assets now to work with for trades, if they find another taker for Brogdon.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are both looking to become supermax players. So the Celtics will have another year before the first of those two massive deals kick in. If they don’t extend KP right away, they’ll also have the year to evaluate how Porzingis fits before making a major contract decision on The Unicorn, since he’s now (temporarily) on an expiring deal.
This also would have been my face if the deal went through and the C’s gave KP a $140m extension https://t.co/N0DYvB57td— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) June 22, 2023
The way Brad Stevens is likely looking at it, he’d like to go win the 2023-2024 championship, and buy himself the green light from ownership to pony up to keep this group in town for years to come.
And if it doesn’t work out, they can look to move on from Porzingis, set to become a free agent next summer.
Now many of us will wait to see if the Celtics are able to retain forward Grant Williams, another key free agent to keep an eye on.
The new Kristaps Porzingis trade leaves the Celtics just $5M below the second apron with the addition of the 25th overall pick.— Yossi Gozlan (@YossiGozlan) June 22, 2023
The Grant Williams situation is still the same, but if he leaves they're now less likely to have the $5M tax MLE unless they reduce their payroll. https://t.co/ZlamDXADvo
On the SportsCenter clip above, Woj talks about how Boston pivoted away from the Clippers, and lured Memphis into talks. If you’re a Grizzlies fan, it probably won’t be too hard to talk yourself into Smart, fully guaranteed through the 2026 season.
He’s more valuable than Tyus Jones. Jones is really more of a backup to Ja Morant, while Smart can play alongside Ja in closing situations, checking the opponent’s best perimeter player; if they’re moving on from Dillon Brooks, that might have been top of mind. But they also lose two picks.
One initial thought: How did Boston add two first-rounders in this deal, and Washington get none?@talkhoops examines the three-team trade between the Grizzlies, Celtics and Wizards and gives his grades:https://t.co/rIQTQGNG5i— The Athletic NBA (@TheAthleticNBA) June 22, 2023
It’s an on-court fit and upgrade. The big drawback is that the Grizz have been so good at mining for talent in the draft, that a late pick for them many not be as flimsy as it is for your average group. It also raises the question of opportunity cost. Who else might they have nabbed for a similar package? Was Smart truly worth this cost?
Or is there a Boston media hype train and Memphis blindly boarded the station?
As for the Wizards, this is better than getting nothing. Jones is a good player a number of teams will likely be calling about, and they got the 35th pick, the same number Draymond Green was once selected at.
Win-win-win? Maybe all of this movement, along with Miami’s Pat Riley evilly plotting to acquire Damian Lillard, will kick Daryl Morey into high gear. There’s an arms race shaping up in the East.