The Boston Celtics traded away Marcus Smart this past offseason in a trade that netted them Kristaps Porzingis from the Washington Wizards.
It was a surprising move on all counts, particularly given that Smart and the Celtics were coming off an Eastern Conference Finals appearance.
Obviously Smart has had some tiffs with his star teammates in the past, but he was also widely regarded as the defensive muscle and mentally toughest player on a team that desperately needs more of both.
Smart subsequently accused the organization of lying to him.
This week, clarity emerged on why Boston ultimately decided to swap out Smart for Porzingis.
“The general tone was, how do we take this energy we’re feeling right now that was built up over having two good seasons but then didn’t get all the way,” team owner Wyc Grousbeck told the Boston Herald.
“If we’d all agreed we should keep things the same, that would have been fine. But the idea of bringing in another talented big popped up early in the conversation, and we ended up executing on that idea.”
The ‘talented big’ in question proved to be Porzingis. Last season the team was briefly linked to Jakob Poeltl, but he ultimately wound up getting sent to the Toronto Raptors at the NBA Trade Deadline.
So clearly there has been an appetite to add a presence in the middle for a while; it was just a matter of the perfect opportunity coming along.
Kay Adams and Ja’Marr Chase. https://t.co/b8MUrIFDKk
— Game 7 (@game7__) August 8, 2023
Last season Porzingis averaged 23.2 points per game on nearly 50 percent shooting from the field and 39 percent from three for the Wizards.
The hope is that he will be able to bring some of that to Boston.
Will the Celtics’ decision to bet on Porzingis over Smart pay dividends come next season? Time will tell.