Hall of Famer gives his take on marquee Boston Celtics offseason move

Boston Celtics, Kristaps Porzingis. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics, Kristaps Porzingis. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

This offseason, the Boston Celtics made the difficult decision to trade veteran guard Marcus Smart to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis.

The last few months have been filled with speculation: Will Smart’s absence in the locker room be too much for the Celtics to overcome? Will Porzingis manage to stay healthy? Does the team have enough playmakers?

Well, consider Hall of Fame basketball player and TNT television analyst Charles Barkley as a believer in the trade. Speaking on The Ringer’s Bill Simmons podcast last week, Barkley described himself as ‘pro-Porzingis’ and shared that he felt the acquisition makes the Boston Celtics a title favorite once again.

“I think it’s worth the gamble,” Barkley said. “When people talk about trades — he doesn’t have to be your best player. He doesn’t have to be your second-best player. But not many guys are going to bring players off the bench as good as Porzingis. I thought it was worth the trade.”

While Porzingis is likely to be in the starting lineup, his acquisition gives the Celtics the opportunity to have either veteran big man Al Horford or Robert Williams III come off the bench. Which of those three end up snagging the starting spots in the front court remains to be seen.

Barkley was a vocal critic of the Celtics during the NBA playoffs, particularly as they fell behind 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat, before clawing their way back into the series only to fall at home in Game 7.

It’s no surprise he’s in the camp that agrees with Celtics management that a shake-up was needed.

Charles Barkley supports new assistant coaches the Boston Celtics are adding to their bench

The Boston Celtics added a number of new assistant coaches this summer, among them Sam Cassell, Charles Lee, Phil Pressey, and Amile Jefferson. Mazzulla was able to make his own selections, whereas last year, he was surrounded by Ime Udoka’s staff. Cassell, who was a veteran leader on the 2008 Celtics team, brings championship experience along with player-development experience on the 76ers. Lee spent nine years on Mike Budenholzer’s staff in Atlanta and Milwaukee. Jefferson was a teammate of Jayson Tatum’s at Duke, and Pressey, like Cassell, is a former Celtic.

“I gotta give Coach Mazzulla a lot of credit for upgrading his coaching staff, because I thought his inexperience showed at different times,” Barkley said. “He didn’t have any strong assistants. He should’ve gotten somebody, even during the season. The best he had was Damon Stoudamire, and he left mid-season. You need strong personalities on the bench, because all these guys got egos.”