According to NBA insider Marc Stein, veteran big man Kristaps Porzingis had a strong desire to join the Boston Celtics, the team that struck a deal for him late Wednesday night.
The Celtics were able to put together a deal for Porzingis despite having an earlier trade for him fall apart.
“The dissolved deal appeared to be a crushing blow of its own for Porziņģis, who league sources say badly wanted to land in Boston,” wrote Stein.
“In addition to the obvious chance to compete for a championship with the Celtics, there is a strong expectation already (as I reported earlier Wednesday) that the Celtics will sign Porzingis to a two-year extension as soon as he becomes eligible for that deal in early July. The 27-year-old just averaged 23.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in 65 games for Washington.”
Porzingis opted into the final year of his current contract as part of his trade to Boston. In addition to the expected success on the court, Porzingis could make as much as $77 million over two seasons through a potential contract extension.
After the earlier deal fell through on Wednesday, the Celtics still delivered a blockbuster deal by trading Marcus Smart. Malcolm Brogdon’s health issues proved to be a roadblock in the deal that crumbled.
“League sources say that the Celtics’ clear intent entering this offseason was to trade Brogdon to ease a logjam among their guards and keep Derrick White, Payton Pritchard and Smart on the roster,” Stein wrote.
“Yet it became clear, as Wednesday wore on, that the Celtics wouldn’t be able to trade Brogdon in the short term — to the [Los Angeles] Clippers or presumably anyone else. So the Celtics pivoted to a three-team trade that brought an abrupt halt to their nine-year association with Smart, NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2022, but also delivered two first-round picks.”
Despite having been in the league since 2015, Porzingis is still only 27 years old. He entered the league as a member of the New York Knicks after he was taken with the fourth overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft.
The eventual departure of Porzingis, coupled with Sunday’s trade of Bradley Beal to the Phoenix Suns, clearly indicates that the Wizards are set to begin a painful rebuilding process.
With regard to Brogdon, health concerns are undoubtedly the chief reason why teams appear to be reluctant to deal for him.
The Celtics used him exclusively off the bench during his first year with the team this past season, where he averaged 14.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
Teams will be busy on Thursday night with the annual draft, a precursor to the start of free agency. By the time all of that dust settles, teams other than the Celtics and Wizards could present very different looks for the 2023-24 season.