On June 21, 2023, the Boston Celtics agreed to a three-way trade to acquire Washington Wizards big man Kristaps Porzingis. In the trade, the Celtics were sending reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Malcolm Brogdon, to the Los Angeles Clippers. The trade happened so the Celtics could shake things up on the basketball court after getting eliminated in seven games by the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, the Clippers backed out of the trade due to concerns over Brogdon’s arm injury that occurred during the playoffs. Ultimately, the Celtics struck a separate deal that sent longtime guard Marcus Smart to the Memphis Grizzlies for the Latvian big man instead. Over halfway through the 2023-24 season, it’s a good time to revisit the initial trade that eventually fell through and see how different each team looks today.
Boston Celtics Trade Review #17: Initial Kristaps Porzingis Trade
Full Trade Details
Boston Celtics receive: Kristaps Porzingis
Los Angeles Clippers receive: Malcolm Brogdon
Washington Wizards receive: Marcus Morris, Amir Coffey, the No. 30 pick of the 2023 NBA Draft (later became Kobe Brown)
Again, despite this initial trade falling through, the Celtics still got their guy in Porzingis. Through 31 games played so far with the Celtics this season, Porzingis is averaging 19.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2 assists per game and is playing some of the best basketball of his career. Porzingis is also shooting a career-high 52.5% from the field. When the Celtics acquired Porzingis, expectations were that he would add an extra element to the team’s offensive game. So far, this has been the case for both sides. Porzingis is one of basketball’s most efficient scorers in the post and has elevated the Celtics’ offense this season. Additionally, Porzingis has been good on the defensive side of the ball as well, averaging 1.8 blocks per game.
— Kristaps Porzingis (@kporzee) January 16, 2024
Brogdon’s offseason was an interesting one. After this trade fell through, reports eventually surfaced that Brogdon was unhappy with the Celtics. The reasoning for it was up in the air, however. On one hand, it was believed Brogdon’s unhappiness stemmed from the Celtics attempting to trade him after the impressive 2022-23 season he had. But it was also believed Brogdon was unhappy with the way the team handled his arm injury that caused him to miss time in the playoffs. Regardless, the Celtics did eventually trade Brogdon to the Portland Trail Blazers in a package deal for Jrue Holiday.
This season, the former Celtics guard has played 32 games for the Trail Blazers, averaging 15.3 points and 5.2 assists per game. On January 19, Brogdon scored a season-high 30 points against his former team, the Indiana Pacers, in a 118-115 victory. And despite injury concerns for Brogdon, the Virginia alum has only missed nine games so far this season.
The Clippers eventually traded Morris to the Philadelphia 76ers in a deal to acquire James Harden. This season, the former Celtics forward has played 32 games, averaging 6.5 points and 3 rebounds per game. Though Morris is playing in his smallest role in years, starting only five games so far, he is shooting an impressive 43.2 3pt%. This is currently the third-most efficient three-point shooting season of his career up to this point.
In 28 games with the Clippers, Coffey is averaging 4.4 points and 1.6 rebounds over 15.4 minutes per game. Coffey scored a season-high 18 points in a December victory, his first start of the season, against the Golden State Warriors.
Brown has played spotty minutes for the Clippers in his rookie season. So far, the 24-year-old is averaging 2.2 points over 10 minutes per game over 25 games.
The Last Word on This Boston Celtics (Almost) Trade
This trade falling through caused a major butterfly effect for everyone involved. Had the Celtics gotten Porzingis through this trade, there’s no telling what Boston would have done with Smart last offseason. Plus, it’s likely the team would not have acquired Holiday with Brogdon now gone. As for the Clippers, not landing Brogdon meant they still needed a point guard, so the trade for Harden would have been far less likely if they did acquire Brogdon. Nothing major changed for the Wizards besides them losing out on a late first-round pick (although they did land the No. 35 pick from the official trade afterward). Plus, teams like the Grizzlies and Trail Blazers made out well due to the following trades the Celtics made with them in the offseason.
In all, the three teams involved can be happy with the trade falling through since it worked out for everybody. Still, it does not make it less interesting to imagine how different the NBA would look had this trade materialized.