(Photo Courtesy of Marca.com) “Kristaps Porzingis is handed his new jersey.”
After another heartbreaking loss in the Eastern Conference Finals at the hands of the Miami Heat, Celtics president of basketball operations, Brad Stevens, decided to make a big splash in the offseason. Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards, and Memphis Grizzlies agreed to a three-team trade that sends Wizards star Kristaps Porzingis, pick no. 25 in the 2023 draft (via Grizzlies), and a 2024 first-round pick (via Warriors) to Boston.
Meanwhile, Boston sends point guard Marcus Smart to Memphis. Washington gets point guard Tyus Jones, power forward Danilo Gallinari, center Mike Muscala and the 35th pick of this year’s draft from Boston to complete the deal.
With five conference finals appearances and zero rings in the past seven years, Boston has grown impatient. The front office knew they had to upgrade the roster to increase their chances of winning their 18th title. With this move, Boston lands a 7’3 monster in Porzingis who can score from all three levels, rebound and protect the paint.
Coming off a career year in Washington with averages of 23.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 49.8 percent field goal shooting and 38.5 percent shooting from three, the 27-year-old Latvian gives Boston a third star to pair with star forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. His excellent floor spacing and rim protection may be what Boston needs to get over the hump. With Tatum and Brown’s inconsistencies in the playoffs, having a 3rd star can help alleviate the pressure. Tatum and Brown won’t receive as much defensive attention, allowing more single-coverage opportunities.
While many Celtics fans were shocked and upset about Boston giving up Smart, it was the right business move for Boston. Not only did Boston swap a role-player for a star, they also netted two first-round picks in return. Smart was the longest-tenured Celtic, regarded as the “heart and soul” of the team due to his energy and hustle. However, there are flaws in his game. The former DPOY regressed defensively this past season while being turnover-prone and having questionable decision-making throughout Boston’s playoff runs. Smart is also a streaky shooter, evidenced by his career 32.3 percent shooting from three.
Per StatMuse, Tatum, Brown and Smart were in the top 5 in total turnovers during the 2023 playoffs. That is a recipe for disaster for a team with championship aspirations. It’s hard to overcome that many turnovers. Also, add Smart’s excessive shot-chucking late in the 4th quarter of playoff games (e.g., 2022 ECF Game 7 against Miami). Boston often struggled against the zone in the playoffs due to Smart’s streaky shooting. Adding Kristaps to the fold solves those issues because he’s a more efficient shooter who likely won’t receive the same defensive treatment as Smart.
While Smart had a great nine years in Boston, it was about time to move on from him. Smart was a good role player in Boston but wasn’t consistent offensively. With the amount of assets Boston has accumulated in this trade, Boston can replace Smart with another point guard. Overall, Boston got better with this trade as they landed a third star to pair with Tatum and Brown while landing more assets.