Thursday, December 7 2023

The Boston Celtics entered the offseason with a clear need to both shed long-term salary and balance their roster. President of basketball operations Brad Stevens might have accomplished both goals with one move, all while fortifying his team’s supporting cast with hopes of another title push.

The Celtics are reportedly nearing a three-team deal that will deliver Kristaps Porzingis from the Washington Wizard and send Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon to the Los Angeles Clippers. Danilo Gallinari, signed last summer by Boston, could reportedly land with the Wizards.

Porzingis would add much-needed size and talent to Boston’s frontcourt while better balancing a roster that had a guard surplus last season. Porzingis would give head coach Joe Mazzulla three starter-quality bigs alongside Al Horford and Robert Williams III.

Brogdon was scheduled to earn $22.5 million in each of the next two seasons. Boston couldn’t feasibly splurge to keep the trio of Brogdon, Marcus Smart, and Derrick White.

Even splurging to keep Brogdon for the 2023-24 season would have prolonged a guard logjam. Fear of the new second apron would have forced the Celtics to move his salary sooner than later. In dealing Brogdon to acquire Porzingis, the Celtics would take on more immediate money but give themselves an easier path to avoiding the supertax next summer.

Porzingis would need to opt in to a $36 million final season of his current deal as part of the swap (an extension would be possible but would complicate Boston’s long-term outlook). That would give Boston one season to look at how Porzingis pairs with the core of this team and then make a decision on a path forward next summer when Jaylen Brown’s supermax extension could begin. Porzingis would also be insurance if, for any reason, Brown isn’t part of Boston’s long-term plans.

There is no clear path to retaining Jayson Tatum, Brown, and Porzingis long term, at least without absolutely stripping the supporting cast to bare inexperienced bones. Still, the Celtics can cross that bridge in a year and have an easier path to getting under the second apron, even if it’s simply allowing Porzingis to walk in free agency.


The biggest on-court concern in acquiring Porzingis would be his health. The 65 games he played last season in Washington were the most since his sophomore season with the Knicks in 2016-17. He hadn’t appeared in more than 57 games in a season since missing the entirety of the 2018-19 campaign after tearing his ACL.

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Brogdon had injury concerns of his own. But he embraced a reserve role in Boston and his consistent scoring output helped him earn Sixth Man of the Year. An arm injury at the end of Boston’s playoff run limited his effectiveness as the Celtics bowed to the Heat.

For the third straight summer since taking over as president of basketball operations, Stevens is taking a major swing. In his first year, Stevens dealt Kemba Walker to Oklahoma City while taking back Al Horford. Coming off a loss in the 2022 NBA Finals, Stevens traded for Brogdon and signed Danilo Gallinari to the taxpayer midlevel.


Now, looking to again fortify the supporting cast around his core, Stevens appears to be rolling the dice with Porzingis.

The Celtics can stomach one more big spending season before the new CBA really begins to suffocate them. Still, there could be immediate pain points. Adding Porzingis and his bloated salary could limit Boston’s willingness to spend to retain Grant Williams in restricted free agency. The team could still splurge and pay a hefty tax bill this year with hopes of getting their books in order next summer before the harshest penalties begin.

But acquiring Porzingis, even on an expiring deal, would make Stevens the real wizard in this deal. The Celtics balance their roster and position themselves for another title quest without losing any prime draft assets, or any other pieces from their playoff core beyond Brogdon.

Source: Yahoo Sports


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