Smart, the longest-tenured Celtics player, is reportedly being traded to make room for Kristaps Porzingis.
On Wednesday night, the Celtics reportedly made a blockbuster deal centering on Kristaps Porzingis, a Wizards big man.
However, it came at the cost of Boston trading away their team’s emotional captain and player of the season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that as part of a three-team trade with Washington, the Celtics are sending Marcus Smart to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Here are the reported trade details, per Wojnarowski and Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:
F Kristaps Porzingis (from Washington)
2023 first-round pick (No. 25 overall – from Memphis)
2024 first-round pick (from Memphis – via Golden State)
G Marcus Smart (from Boston)
G Tyus Jones (from Memphis)
F Danilo Gallinari (from Boston)
F Mike Muscala (from Boston)
2023 second-round pick (from Boston)
The surprise trade that was finalized on Wednesday night came after a busy day of negotiations and failed trade negotiations for both the Celtics and Wizards.
The Celtics were reportedly close to agreeing on a three-team deal with the Wizards and Clippers on Wednesday afternoon that would have acquired Porzingis but sent Malcolm Brogdon, the current Sixth Man of the Year, to Los Angeles.
However, later that evening, Wojnarowski stated that negotiations surrounding the three-team agreement had “gone awry”, forcing Boston to start over with the Wizards. According to Mark Stein of Substack, the Clippers had reservations about Brogdon’s injury status, which led to the three-team trade being declined.
In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Brogdon tore a portion of a tendon in his elbow, hampering his performance in Boston’s seven-game series against the Heat. It is not yet known whether Brogdon will require surgery to repair the injury this summer.
ESPN stated that despite the failure of the first trade plan, the Celtics and Wizards were still committed to negotiating a trade that included Porzingis.
However, time was not Boston’s ally. Porzingis had until midnight on Thursday morning to decide whether to exercise his $36 million player option for next campaign. If he didn’t, he would become a free agent and all chances of Boston getting a contract for him would be destroyed.
The Grizzlies, a young team that could use Smart’s defensive prowess and veteran leadership, were a willing trade partner, but shortly before the midnight deadline, Boston found another.
Some predicted that Smart would be traded in any deal, despite the possibility that the Celtics would move a key component from their talented but crowded backcourt to add further reinforcements.
Smart, the 2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, ended his nine-year stay in Boston with the fourth-highest number of steals in team history, behind Paul Pierce, Larry Bird and Rajon Rondo.
The Celtics added in Porzingis, a 7-foot-3 big man with a special skill set who can guard the rim and spread the field offensively on the opposite end of the game.
With the Wizards, the 27-year-old Latvian had his greatest season ever, averaging 23.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while shooting 38.5 percent from outside the arc.
Al Horford will be able to reclaim his natural position at power forward thanks to Porzingis’ presence, and Robert Williams, who has a history of injuries, will have more insurance.
However, Porzingis sometimes has trouble staying on the court. He appeared in 65 games with Washington in 2022–23, more than he had in any season since his time with the Knicks in 2016–17.
Boston will now have Porzingis and his $36 million deal on the books for 2023-24, but Boston could still try to work out an extension with him later in the summer. Starting on July 6, Porzingis will be able to sign a two-year, $77 million deal.
However, if Boston commits to Porzingis long-term, it will likely have limited financial flexibility as Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are expected to sign supermax contracts in the coming years, as well as a new CBA. The signing is expected to hurt high-spending clubs. ,
Brad Stevens will have additional options in the coming days, due to Boston earning two additional selections in the first round.
Stevens now has more draft capital that he can use to buy more assets in the coming days, even if the Celtics use their No. 25 pick on Thursday night.
Stevens still has a lot of work to do this summer due to Grant Williams’ impending RFA status and Brogdon’s current delicate injury situation.