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Kristaps Porzingis trade: What Celtics fans need to know about veteran center

The Boston Celtics are reportedly finalizing a blockbuster three-team trade with the Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies, and it's a stunner.

Marcus Smart's nine-year career with the Celtics is over. He is headed to the Grizzlies. The Celtics are acquiring Kristaps Porzingis from the Wizards, plus multiple first-round draft picks from the Grizzlies.

Here are the full details of the trade, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and the Boston Globe's Adam Himmelsbach:

  • Celtics acquire: Kristaps Porzingis, 2023 first-round pick from Memphis (No. 25 overall), 2024 first-round pick (from Memphis via Golden State)

  • Grizzlies acquire: Marcus Smart

  • Wizards acquire: Mike Muscala, Danilo Gallinari, Tyus Jones, 2023 second-round pick from Boston (No. 35 overall)

A three-team trade between the Celtics, Wizards and Los Angeles Clippers fell apart earlier Wednesday night, but Boston and Washington were still able to work out a deal with Memphis to get Porzingis to the C's.

The Celtics reportedly were looking to use their excellent depth at guard to address other weaknesses on their roster, most notably the frontcourt. Even with Smart gone, the Celtics still have three quality point guards on the roster in Malcolm Brogdon, Derrick White and Payton Pritchard.

Porzingis joins Al Horford, Robert Williams and potentially Grant Williams (RFA this summer) in a loaded Celtics frontcourt that has a great blend of shooting, defense and versatility.

Here's what Celtics fans need to know about Porzingis.

Age

27

Position

Power forward/center

Stats

Porzingis averaged 23.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game for the Wizards last season. He also shot 49.8 percent from the field, 38.5 percent from 3-point range and 85.1 percent from the free throw line. Porzingis played in 65 games. Before last season, he hadn't played in 65-plus games since his rookie (2015-16) and sophomore (2016-17) seasons with the New York Knicks.

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Contract

Porzingis reportedly has opted into the final year of his contract, which carries a $36,016,200 salary cap hit, per Spotrac. This means he'll be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2024, so the Celtics are not making a long-term commitment. It's worth the gamble if Porzingis can stay healthy (more on that below).

It's also possible for the Celtics and Porzingis to work out an extension this summer:

How will Porzingis help the Celtics?

Porzingis is a dynamic offensive player who will add consistent outside shooting to the Celtics' frontcourt. He has scored 20-plus points per game in five of his last six seasons, including a career-high 23.2 points per game last year. The 27-year-old center has shot 35.9 percent from 3-point range in his career, including a 38.5 percent rate in 2022-23. Porzingis hit 47.6 percent of his corner 3-pointers last season, and he should get plenty of those attempts in Boston with defenses focusing most of their attention on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Porzingis is a quality rebounder, too. He has pulled down eight or more rebounds per game in four of his last five seasons. Porzingis also is a quality interior defender at 7-foot-3 and 240 pounds. He has blocked 1.8 shots per game in his career. And given how prevalent the pick-and-roll has become in today's NBA, Porzingis' ability to defend those plays at a high level is pretty valuable.

The primary concern with Porzingis is health. He has battled plenty of injuries in his career. He's never played more than 72 games in a single season. Porzingis missed 29 games in 2020-21, 31 games in 2021-22 and 17 games last season.

A frontcourt of Porzingis, Robert Williams and Al Horford looks amazing on paper, and it probably will translate to success on the court. But there's a fair amount of risk here, too, considering both Porzingis and Williams' lengthy injury histories, plus the fact that Horford is 37 and just finished his 16th season.

What they're saying about the trade...

Highlights

Porzingis scored 32 points with 12 rebounds and six assists in a 130-111 win over the Celtics on March 28, 2023.

Porzingis scored a career-high 41 points versus the Minnesota Timberwolves early in the 2022-23 season.