Celtics are better than they were a few days ago

Enough of the misty-eyed farewells to that hard-fighting, green-haired, blood-and-guts Celtic-For-Life Marcus Smart.

There can be no fact-based debate over the deal that sent Smart packing and brought Kristap Porzingis to town.. No one who has paid attention and is even marginally rational can argue that the Celtics are not a better team than the one that lost in the Eastern Conference finals a few weeks ago.

They needed a big guy. They needed someone capable of defending inside. They needed a guy who can rebound. 

They wanted a big guy who can shoot. 

Hopefully, that doesn’t mean Porzingis will be taking a spot at the 3-point arc and waiting for his next chance to fire away. Hopefully his play will give pause to the ridiculous offense that burned the Celtics against the Heat.

A rebounder can start fast breaks. A guy who can hit 12-footers might be able to fool opponents into thinking that the Celtics might occasionally forgo the open 3 for a higher percentage 2.

None of this is meant as a slam on Smart. He’s a decent player, he’s been a model citizen, and Brad Stevens summed it up nicely at his overnight press conference Friday morning:

“The greatest legacy you can leave is to be someplace and it’s better off because you were there. And I think that everybody here feels that way. I think that he will always be appreciated and thought of so fondly here for any number of reasons.”

Smart’s nine years as a Celtic were commendable but hardly spectacular. That shouldn’t be enough to make him untouchable when a favorable transaction is proposed.

Unless a team’s ownership group is only in it to churn money, become quasi-celebrities and ultimately sell the team at a great profit, winning a championship is a priority.

In Smart’s nine seasons with the Celtics they made the NBA Finals once. They lost in the conference finals four times. 

He was never the guy who was going to haul them over the hump.

Any player is tradeable if there is a fair return that could improve the team’s chances of winning. There are contractual limits and salary cap issues and a bunch of legal gobbledygook limiting a player’s tradability. 

In pure basketball terms, everyone is available.

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