Driscoll: Celtics’ Smart, Porzingis Swap Might Be Team’s Biggest Boom or Bust Trade Ever


It has been a little over a week since the Boston Celtics made a huge splash and traded their longest-tenured player, Marcus Smart, for Kristaps Porzingis. This was a three-team deal involving the Celtics, Washington Wizards, and Memphis Grizzlies. Smart will be headed to Memphis and will likely be the starting point guard for the Grizzlies until Ja Morant comes back from his 25-game suspension. Although this is a very good trade for the Celtics at face value, there is far more to the story.

Celtics fans know that Smart’s overall presence will be missed in the team’s culture. He was drafted in 2014 by the Celtics with the sixth overall pick after they went 25-57 the season before. Since then, they have made the playoffs every season, have made the Eastern Conference Finals in five out of the last seven years, and reached the Finals in 2022. Though Smart was never the best or even second-best player on the team, he has been one of the most important players on the team, especially on the defensive end.

Smart made the NBA All-Rookie 2nd Team in the 2014-15 season, made the All-NBA Defensive First Team three times, and won Defensive Player of the Year in 2022.

Even though it is certainly okay for Celtics fans to be upset about this trade, there is a lot to be excited about. This past season, Porzingis averaged 23.2 points (career-high), 8.4 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks (eight in NBA) per game while shooting 38.5 percent from three. In addition to basic stats, he also did well on advanced stats with a 62.7 percent true shooting rate and finished in the top 20 in both player efficiency rating and box plus/minus. A lot of fans are rightfully concerned with the fact that he is injury prone. With this being said, Porizngis played 65 games this year, which is the most he has played since he tore his ACL.

A player of Porzingis’s caliber also fits perfectly with the Celtics. There were times in last year’s playoffs when they looked too small and got bullied on the boards at times. Porzingis is elite at defending the pick and roll, which is a play a lot of contenders rely on. In addition to this, having another big (in addition to Al Horford) that can shoot from three is going to be huge. This will spread the floor and allow Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to drive with more space.

Still, Smart bought all the intangibles to the table you can ask for. Even when his shot was off or he had a couple of bad turnovers throughout the game, you could always rely on him to hustle and make big plays down the stretch. It is going to take at least a year to determine who won the trade. With this all being said, there is no denying that this could be the biggest boom or bust trade in Celtics franchise history.

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