Atlantic Notes: Smart, Porzingis, Petrusev, VanVleet

Longtime Celtics guard Marcus Smart had a conversation with team president Brad Stevens in mid-June and was assured at that time that he’d remain with the team this summer, Smart tells Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. A week later, he was gone, having been traded to the Grizzlies as part of a three-team package to send Kristaps Porzingis to Boston.

“It was a shock,” Smart said. “My agent called my fiancée and she woke me up out of a sleep, literally, right after the deal had been made and I think [the media] had already tweeted it out. That’s how we found out.”

The Celtics had originally intended to include another guard, Malcolm Brogdon, as part of a three-team deal with the Clippers that would have landed them Porzingis. However, those talks fell through, forcing Boston to pivot to the deal sending Smart to Memphis. Smart said he understands it’s a “business” and has no hard feelings toward the organization, even if he didn’t learn about his exit in the way he would’ve liked.

“Anybody who knows me knows that I’m the first one to tell people, you can’t put personal with business, it just doesn’t mix,” he said. “… But for me, it was just the [lack of] courtesy. They probably already knew they were thinking about trading me. They had this trade in their back pocket just in case something else didn’t happen.”

Smart enjoyed a solid run with the Celtics, even earning Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2022 en route to an NBA Finals appearance. His defense slipped somewhat in 2022/23, but he remain a valuable two-way leader on a club that wound up being just one win shy of a second consecutive Finals.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The two-year, $60MM extension Porzingis is finalizing with the Celtics could become as a massive monetary coup for Boston, argues Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. The reported deal, which will begin in 2024/25, is worth $17MM less than the maximum possible extension Porzingis could have signed off his current contract, and Forsberg believes a strong season would have put the big man in position to command even more money had he reached unrestricted free agency next summer. Porzingis enjoyed one of his healthiest seasons in years and was fairly effective with the Wizards on both sides of the hardwood in ’22/23.
  • Two years after being drafted with the No. 50 pick out of Gonzaga by the Sixers, big man Filip Petrusev is confident he can produce at the NBA level, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Following his selection in the draft, the 6’11” center suited up for teams in Turkey and Belgrade. Petrusev, who will play on Philadelphia’s summer league club this month, is hoping to ink a deal with the Sixers for the 2023/24 season.
  • Longtime Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet, who won a title with Toronto in 2019, is moving on to the Rockets on a lucrative new contract. He penned a heartfelt farewell missive to the team on his official Instagram. “I am forever indebted to the franchise that gave me a shot when no one else would,” VanVleet wrote. “We built things together that can never be broken and accomplished things that will stand forever… To the city, franchise and country that watched me grow… THANK YOU.”
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