Blockbuster Wizards trade nearly fell through last offseason

Had things fell through, the Washington Wizards trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Boston Celtics might not have happened.
Washington Wizards, Kristaps Porzingis, NBA Trade Rumors, Boston Celtics
Washington Wizards, Kristaps Porzingis, NBA Trade Rumors, Boston Celtics / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

It’s been a crazy year for the Washington Wizards. While it may not seem like it, as they were one of the worst teams in the league this season, the entire course of the franchise has changed over the last 12 months.

Last summer, they got rid of their two star players and set their sights on a rebuild. Most notably, Bradley Beal was shipped off to the Phoenix Suns. Their long-time franchise star was gone.

But in addition to that, the Wizards also moved on from Kristaps Porzingis. He was only in Washington for a short time, but he enjoyed some of the best basketball of his career.

The Wizards traded him to the Boston Celtics in a three-team deal, but there were some question marks on the day it got done. The original outline of the trade, which included Malcolm Brogdon being sent to the LA Clippers, fell through.

Wizards' Kristaps Porzingis trade to Celtics almost didn't happen

And while the Celtics eventually figured things out by roping in the Memphis Grizzlies and trading Marcus Smart, had they failed to do so, Porzingis wouldn’t be a Celtic. Porzingis revealed as much in an interview with Bobby Manning for GQ.

"I had better financial contracts available, or an offer, but Boston is what I wanted. If the trade didn't go through, I would've ended up somewhere else. It was a crazy day, crazy night and I went to sleep, because I was in a different time zone and then finally, I woke up and had a bunch of calls and a bunch of messages that I got traded to Boston, and obviously, I was ecstatic."

Kristaps Porzingis | Bobby Manning, GQ

From the sound of it, had Brad Stevens not ponied up Smart in the deal and gotten the Grizzlies involved, Porzingis could have been traded elsewhere.

In the trade, the Celtics got Porzingis, the 25th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, and a future Golden State Warriors first-round pick, the Grizzlies received Smart, and the Wizards got back Tyus Jones, Danilo Gallinari, Mike Muscala, and the 35th pick in the 2023 draft.

For the Wizards, the move about about resetting. They wanted to enter a rebuild and find a new path forward that wouldn’t be dominated by painful mediocrity.

For the Grizzlies, it was about improvement. Injuries cut down what could have been a successful season, but Smart’s defense and veteran presence could prove invaluable.

And for the Celtics, the deal was about finally getting over the jump, and that’s what’s happening. Though Porzingis was hurt for most of the postseason, his impact in Boston was undeniable.

Had the trade not happened, it’s impossible to know where all three of the teams would be and, more importantly, what team Porzingis would be playing for right now.

It could be an entirely different NBA world right now, but it’s not. The trade went through, and the Wizards’ rebuild is fully underway.