On Thursday, the newest member of the Boston Celtics, Kristaps Porzingis, spoke to the media for the first time since being dealt to Boston from the Washington Wizards. Of course, the move for the Latvian big man had to involve beloved Celtics guard Marcus Smart, who had spent his entire nine-year NBA career in green.
NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg prompted the team’s new No. 8 to divulge on forever being linked to a player like Smart because of the trade.
“I think I’m going to have to prove it first on the court and then off the court,” Porzingis told Forsberg. “You cannot replace Marcus Smart. He was a special player and special for this organization and this community. But also I look forward to also bringing high effort and high energy — hopefully give a fire to this team and gain the fans’ respect and support.”
Boston Celtics fans need to separate Kristaps Porzingis from Marcus Smart
It’s easier said than done. But, in order for Celtics fans to give Porzingis a fair shake, they’re going to need to try their best not to correlate him with Smart — a nearly impossible task because of the fan favorite’s involvement in the trade.
Forsberg’s question is an excellent one. He’s right. Fans are naturally going to connect the two. Porzingis’ answer? Also great.
He understands that the fanbase had an affection for No. 36 and that losing him is tough. On top of that, he communicates an understanding that he’s got to earn the respect of fans, it won’t just be given.
With all of that being said, the Garden faithful needs to be able to separate the two ends of the sword in order to allow him to earn their respect. They won’t be able to enjoy the addition of the Latvian big man unless they do so.
Objectively, Porzingis is an awesome fit with the Celtics. He is coming off of one of the healthiest seasons of his career, averaging a career-high in points, and is one of the better pick-and-role defenders in the league. Plus, his skillset will soften the blow of Al Horford eventually fading out of the rotation with age — not that that will come this season.
As for the loss of Smart — yeah, it sucks. But, the addition of Porzingis could help a team that’s been so close to Banner 18 get over the hump.
For more on the Marcus Smart trade, check out the live reaction from me and CelticsBlog’s Jack Simone: