Grading the Kristaps Porzingis trade from every Boston Celtics angle

Kristaps Porzingis, Washingon Wizards (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Kristaps Porzingis, Washingon Wizards (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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The NBA never sleeps. Less than a month removed from Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics are as active as anyone on the eve before the draft. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported a trade involving the Boston Celtics acquiring Kristaps Porzingis in a three-team deal that would send Malcolm Brogdon to the Los Angeles Clippers, and Marcus Morris Sr. to the Washington Wizards. And just as everything seemed done and ready to call it into the league, the Clipper backed out.

Negotiations continued until near midnight, the deadline for Porzingis to opt-in to the final year of his contract until finally a deal was finalized involving the Memphis Grizzlies acquiring Marcus Smart in exchange for Tyus Jones going to the Wizards and draft compensation to the Celtics.

My first impressions of the deal are that it came out of nowhere. Everyone knew Boston was going to move on from one of its guards but a deal pursuing Porzingis makes a big splash, especially for Brad Stevens, an executive who was recently called out on the Bill Simmons podcast for not yet making a big move during his presidency. What made an even bigger splash was the trade nearly falling apart and then ultimately leading to the departure of long-time Celtic, Marcus Smart.

This deal is a three-teamer with a few ins and outs that were slapped together at literally the last minute. So let’s take a look at it from all sides. What was lost, what was gained, and what could have been gained instead?

Boston Celtics (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

What the Boston Celtics gave up

The first thing to look at is what Boston gave up. If the trade is to be graded properly, the cost matters. And Marcus Smart, however polarizing, is still a big loss. Smart was historically known as the heart and soul of the locker room. What he lacked in traditional stats he made up for with hustle and high-effort plays. He was always the first one diving for loose balls, ready to make a play at any moment necessary.

Last season wasn’t his best but the year prior certainly was, a season that ended with a loss in the Finals. He found a real rhythm as a point guard and led the C’s in assists in both the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 seasons.

What can’t go without mentioning though is Smart’s defense. The 2021-2022 defensive player of the year was always known for taking the tough assignments, guarding everyone from bigs to shifty guards. 2023 saw his defense slope downward but he still held his own.

However, Smart was far from perfect. He was arguably not the team’s most productive guard this season behind Derrick White. Over his Celtics tenure, he was known as a big-shot taker, but not necessarily a big-shot maker. His offense could be productive at times but also could feel detrimental when he took too many shots. It was hard to find the right amount of usage.

Faults aside Marcus Smart did give his all every single time he suited up in green, and that is worth something, though it’s hard to quantify. But looking at things on a macro scale, it might have been time to move on. Time will tell.

Other than Smart, the Celtics are sending Mike Muscala and Danilo Galinari to Washington. Galinari never suited up for the Celtics due to injury and Muscala was a trade deadline acquisition that didn’t play meaningful minutes come playoff time. Still, it would have been nice to have kept one of these two considering Grant Williams may be moving on as well. Additionally, they are sending the 35th pick in this year’s draft, which is negligible considering what they are getting back.

Grade: B-