Thursday, June 22, 2023

Celtics reportedly trade Marcus Smart for Kristaps Porzingis in three-team swap

The Celtics are reportedly trading Marcus Smart as part of a re-worked three-team blockbuster for Kristaps Porzingis, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The longest tenured C's player in Smart is heading to Memphis, while the Wizards will receive point guard Tyus Jones (from the Grizzlies), Danilo Gallinari, Mike Muscala and the 35th overall pick (from Boston) in tonight's NBA Draft.

Other than Porzingis, the Celtics also get the 25th overall pick in this year's draft from Memphis and a 2024 first-round pick (top-four protected) via the Golden State Warriors.

Wednesday night's deal, which was struck just before midnight, was a result of a failed trade discussion between the Celtics, Wizards and the Clippers. Earlier in the day, reports from several outlets had Boston finalizing a three-team trade with the Wizards and Clippers that would have landed Porzingis and sent reigning Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon to Los Angeles -- with Marcus Morris heading to Washington.

But late Wednesday evening, Woj reported that the agreement around the three-team swap had "fallen apart" and all sides were moving on, before the NBA insider minutes later tweeted that the Celtics and Wizards were still working under a deadline to get a deal done for Porzingis -- who had to pick up his $36 million player option prior to midnight ET.

League insider Marc Stein reported, that the Clippers had concerns with Brogdon's injury status as the reason behind the collapse of the three-team deal that was put together.

Brogdon sustained a partially torn tendon in his right elbow during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat. The injury limited Brogdon for the rest of the seven-game series and it remains unclear if the veteran guard will need surgery this offseason.

Boston would end up finding a third team just before the midnight deadline in the Grizzlies, who were targeting Smart instead of Brogdon to lead a young roster and also be the defensive juggernaut in their backcourt like he had been in Boston his whole career.

Smart, the 2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year (first guard in nearly 30 years to win the award), ends his nine-year tenure in Boston -- with the fourth-most steals in Celtics' franchise history behind Paul Pierce, Larry Bird, and Rajon Rondo.

Porzingis at 7-foot-3 brings a unique skillset as a 3-point shooter and a rim protector to Boston. The 27-year-old is coming off a career-high averaging 23.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks while shooting 38.5% from behind the 3-point arc.

With the arrival of Porzingis, it will allow the veteran Al Horford to play his natural position of power forward, while adding some insurance to the often injured Robert Williams.

Despite playing 65 games this past season -- the most he's played since the 2016-17 campaign with the Knicks -- Porzingis has had a history of aliments throughout his career in the NBA. The Latvian big man sat out the entire 2018-19 campaign with an ACL injury and has missed 25 games or more in four of his seven seasons he has played so far.

Still, with Porzingis' $36 million on the books through the 2023-24 season, the Celtics could also offer him a two-year, $77 million extension when he becomes eligible July 6.

With a supermax extension looming this summer for Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum's next offseason, there will be little wiggle room for a Porzingis deal to get done -- especially with the NBA's new CBA set to kick in at the start 2024-25.

Plus, when you consider if Brogdon will need surgery and what could happen to Grant Williams' pending restricted free agency, the Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has his work cut out for him in the upcoming weeks.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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