A three-way heater among the Celtics, Wizards, and Grizzlies means a major NBA shift entering draft night — check out the full details.
Star forward Kristaps Porzingis had until midnight ET Thursday to either opt into the final year of a five-year, $158.2 million contract that would pay him $36 million for the 2023-24 season or opt out and become an unrestricted free agent this summer. After agreeing to trade Bradley Beal to the Phoenix Suns earlier this week, the rebuilding Wizards were working to send the 27-year-old Latvian to Boston to try and recoup some value for the 7-foot-3 Porzingis.
The Celtics and Wizards thought they had a three-team trade worked out earlier Wednesday that would have sent Porzingis to Boston, Marcus Morris, Amir Coffey, and the 30th pick in Thursday’s draft to DC, and reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon to the Los Angeles Clippers. But just before 10:30 p.m. ET, word emerged that Los Angeles reportedly had issues with Brogdon’s injury status and the deal was off. There were only 90 minutes left to make a deal.
At 11:59 p.m. ET, a new three-team deal was consummated as both The Athletic and Stadium’s Shams Charania and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski dropped some earth-shattering news concurrently to their millions of NBA Twitter followers.
After years of rumors and speculation, Boston finally agreed to trade 2021-22 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart — the longest-tenured Celtic, a fan favorite, and the heart and soul of a team that made the conference finals five of the last seven years but have just one NBA Finals appearance to show for it. Smart will head to the Memphis Grizzlies, pairing with reigning DPOY Jaren Jackson Jr. and providing toughness and veteran leadership for a talented Grizzlies team that will be without the suspended Ja Morant for the first 25 regular season games of 2023-24.
Kristaps Porzingis – Marcus Smart Trade Details
- C Kristaps Porzingis
- 2023 1st round pick (No. 25 overall)
- 2024 1st round pick (protected)
- PG Tyus Jones
- PF Danilo Gallinari
- PF/C Mike Muscala
- 2023 2nd round pick (No. 35 overall)
- PG/SG Marcus Smart
Porzingis is coming off perhaps the best season of his NBA career, averaging a career-high 23.2 points per game on 49.8% shooting and 38.5% from three to go with 8.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks; he’ll now enter extension talks with his new team. Boston now has size, shooting, and length and drastically alters a starting lineup built around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. So, what will this change mean for incumbent big men Robert Williams and Al Horford? Derrick White will start at point guard now, but will the Celtics keep Brogdon after all but dealing him Wednesday?
The Celtics likely won’t be done trading here, as they’re now armed with two additional first-rounders and a bit of roster imbalance that could use an extra boost of passing. They still have to make an important offseason decision on restricted free agent Grant Williams, too.
For Washington, there will be criticism abound for not netting a single first-round pick in exchange for either Beal or Porzingis, but after trading for Tyus Jones — widely regarded as the league’s top reserve point guard who reportedly wanted a shot at a starting job somewhere — the Wizards now have their own glut of guards. For now, Chris Paul is slated to be on this roster along with Jones and rotation-level point guards Monte Morris and Delon Wright, though it’s not expected that he’ll stick around Washington for long. The Wiz also pick at No. 8 in Thursday’s draft.
Memphis is in their current position thanks to some deft maneuvering several years ago from general manager Zach Kleiman. In a salary cap crunch in 2019, Golden State attached a first-round pick with Andre Iguodala‘s salary to offload his contract to the Grizzlies, providing vital ammo in this Smart trade. Looking ahead, Smart embodies Memphis’ grit and grind ethos and will provide some mentorship to Morant that’s clearly needed. We easily forget that the Grizzlies finished No. 2 in the Western Conference during the 2022-23 regular season, and Smart will replace free agent Dillon Brooks in the starting lineup in what could truly be a moment of addition by subtraction.
Right before the clock struck midnight the Celtics got their man in Porzingis, but not before they finally parted with Smart in a shocking trade that sets the stage for what should be an entertainingly busy, frenetic draft night. In such an active trade market around the league — to say nothing of free agency and the offseason period beginning June 30 — it’s not a matter of if another major shoe is about to drop, but when.
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