Boston’s best move in 2023 NBA free agency

The Boston Celtics have reached the Eastern Conference Finals five times in the past seven years, but have never gone from losing to winning a championship. This iteration of the Celtics was lacking something no one understood as they had all the makings of a championship team, so President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens made major moves that would drastically change the look of the Celtics.

Kristaps Porzingis was one of the biggest additions in the offseason as the organization has prioritized adding a big man with All-Star potential who brings a different look to Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown. By adding someone like Porzingis, they left two key cogs in the rotation as Marcus Smart is headed to the Memphis Grizzlies and Grant Williams was shipped to the Dallas Mavericks.

With some great moves Boston has accomplished, there is one move that stands out, even if it is a huge risk to some diehard Boston fans.

Kristaps Porzingis acquired via three-way trade on June 23

In terms of free agent signings, the Celtics were able to add Dalano Banton and O’Shea Brissett as two of their signings, so these two men are unlikely to have consistent rotation minutes under head coach Joe Majulla. However, as far as offseason moves go, it is the Kristaps Porzingis trade that will have the biggest impact on Boston’s 2023-24 campaign.

Since the days of Brad Stevens, Ime Udoka and now Joe Mazzulla, the Celtics’ style of play has centered on their guards and wings. This is beneficial but only up to a certain point as when defenders focus on their main men their options are reduced. At the beginning of this season, Boston brought in Porzingis who is a fantastic threat from the post, can spread the floor well, and more importantly strengthens the Celtics’ interior defense.

Al Horford has been wearing a Boston jersey for many years, and he is likely to be out for the next few seasons. Robert Williams III has been injured every season of his career, so the Celtics need to take a different look at that slot. Porzingis can complement Tatum and Brown because he has tremendous catch-and-shoot ability which is key in Mazzulla’s offense.

Injuries have been a major concern throughout his career, but it should be noted that Porzingis played in 65 games last season, and it could have been even more if the Washington Wizards hadn’t tanked in the final game of the year. The optimism is that his durability will continue to improve during his tenure in Boston.

On the defensive side, his slow lateral speed and speed will make it difficult to play Porzingis at the 4 in some matchups, but the Celtics have a myriad of options to mitigate that issue. It’s Porzingis’ shot-blocking ability that will be a huge boost for Boston’s defense, especially with Mazzulla’s plans heavily focused on offense and three-point shooting.

Losing Marcus Smart to the business was hard to digest, but the extent of Smart’s contributions to organizations may have already reached their limits. Smart was the heart and soul of Boston, but his defense was in decline last year, and Derrick White might be a better fit under their center.

The big three of Tatum, Brown and Porzingis will be tough to defend, but how well the rest of the crew can compete together as a trio remains to be seen in Beantown.

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