The Boston Celtics have been as consistent as they come in the Eastern Conference over the past few years, but they have not been able to win the NBA championship since they last won it back in 2008.

It has now become apparent that the patience of Boston’s front office has worn thin with their current group as they just made a surprising roster shake up that few saw coming.

The Celtics dealt away starting point guard Marcus Smart and acquired one-time NBA All-Star Kristaps Porzingis from the Washington Wizards in the latest blockbuster move of what has been an exciting first few weeks of the NBA offseason so far.

The complete trade is actually a three team deal where Smart will be traded to the Memphis Grizzlies, Boston receives two first round picks in addition to Porzingis, and Washington secures role players Tyus Jones, Danilo Gallinari, and Mike Muscala.

Smart, whom the Celtics drafted sixth overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, blossomed into the 2022 NBA Defensive Player of the Year as he emerged as the heart and soul of the team’s defense. The 29-year-old Smart has also become a better playmaker in recent years, increasing his assist per game average in each of the last four seasons which culminated in a career-best 6.3 per game in the ‘22-’23 campaign.

By acquiring the 7’3 Porzingis for the 6’3 Smart though, Boston’s rotation has now gained an entire foot in height which adds a completely different dimension to their attack. Porzingis, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown figure to be one of the most physically imposing trios in the league in the upcoming season. Furthermore, the arrival of Porzingis should also improve their floor spacing as he was a 38.5% three-point shooter last year versus Smart’s 33.6%.

A big man pairing of Porzingis and Robert Wiliams offers the Celtics elite rim protection as well and will allow them to limit veteran Al Hoford’s minutes during the regular season in anticipation of another deep postseason run. Meanwhile, the void left by Smart is expected to be filled by Derrick White and reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, though it remains to be seen how long it will take the latter to recover from the forearm injury that he suffered during last month’s Eastern Conference Finals.

For Smart, he is now expected to become the leader of a Memphis team that sorely lacks a veteran presence. Smart will also have to fill-in for the Grizzlies’ two-time NBA All-Star Ja Morant to begin the season as he serves his 25-game suspension. Upon Morant’s return, Smart may slide up to shooting guard and form an undersized yet dynamic perimeter attack with Desmond Bane.

It seems more likely though that either Smart or Bane will come off the bench–albeit it is too soon to count out further moves from Memphis given how chaotic these past few months have been for this promising group.

On the other hand, this trade confirms that the Wizards are ready for a rebuild as not even a week has passed since they sent their other former NBA All-Star Bradley Beal to the Phoenix Suns. Among their haul in this deal, Jones is a particularly attractive asset as one of the league’s best back-up point guards. Washington’s front office may soon be able to find a contender willing to trade for him in exchange for a few picks.

The NBA offseason is just beginning, but the arms race for the 2024 NBA title has already begun. Boston has made the biggest gamble among the three teams in this transaction and it will be interesting to see whether it pans out for them. A disappointing start to the season may lead to even more moves, but on the contrary, if Porzingis can pick up from where he left off last season with the Wizards, this might be looked back on as the deal that finally pushed them over the hump.