The Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards reportedly came close to a three-team trade with the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday that would have sent Kristaps Porzingis to Boston. That deal fell apart, but according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the two sides have found a new trade partner in the Memphis Grizzlies. Here are the reported details of the trade at this moment:
- Celtics receive: Kristaps Porzingis, No. 25 overall pick, 2024 first-round pick (via Warriors)
- Grizzlies receive: Marcus Smart
- Wizards receive: No. 35 overall pick in 2023 NBA Draft, Tyus Jones, Danilo Gallinari, Mike Muscala
According to Marc Stein, the Clippers dropped out of the original deal over concerns about Malcolm Brogdon's medical history. That left the Celtics and Wizards in a difficult position. The deadline for Porzingis to pick up his player option was midnight, so Boston needed to scramble to figure out a different approach to the deal. Fortunately, they were able to do so at the eleventh hour. However, it cost them the self-described "heart and soul" of their team.
Smart has spent his entire nine-year career in Boston after the Celtics selected him No. 6 overall in 2014. In Memphis, he will seemingly help the Grizzlies fill two holes. He can replace Jones as their backup point guard, an important position considering how frequently Ja Morant misses games, but he can also step in as their primary wing defender with Dillon Brooks expected to leave in free agency. Few players in the NBA could successfully perform both jobs, but Smart is an exception, and the Grizzlies paid handsomely to get him.
The deal accomplishes several things for a Celtics team coming off of a very disappointing Eastern Conference finals loss to the Miami Heat. The Celtics had reportedly been looking for a way to break up their logjam in the backcourt, and this move clears the way for a rotation of Brogdon, Derrick White and Payton Pritchard in the guard spots. It would also have shored up their front line, which is critical as Grant Williams is a restricted free agent, Robert Williams III has durability concerns and Al Horford just turned 37.
Porzingis is coming off of a very strong year in Washington. He played 65 games for the Wizards, His most since the 2016-17 season, and averaged 23.2 points and 8.4 rebounds while playing strong interior defense. The Celtics typically prioritize big men that can shoot, and Porzingis would likely be the best shooting big man in franchise history. Last season, he took 5.5 3-pointers per game and made 38.5% of them.
The Wizards are fully embarking on a rebuild after trading Bradley Beal to the Phoenix Suns. With that in mind, retaining Porzingis on a long-term deal makes little sense. In Jones, the Wizards add a starting-caliber point guard to a logjam at the position that currently includes Chris Paul and Monte Morris. In all likelihood, there are more moves coming for Washington, but for now, they've managed to turn Porzingis into a high second-round pick and a valuable, cheaper role player.
The Celtics and Wizards were seemingly committed to making a deal of some sort work. Once the Clippers fell out of the equation, they were quickly able to find an alternative. Now the Celtics get their big man, and Memphis swooped in to add a major piece to its own lineup.