The Celtics traded Marcus Smart for Kristaps Porziņģis. So what’s Boston’s next move?

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What’s next? There has to be something.

Of course, trading Marcus Smart for Kristaps Porziņģis makes sense. It gives the team a unique scorer that solves so many of their deficiencies while also being a force near the rim on defense. But bolstering the scoring and postgame with this move means there are new problems to solve.

The first step is to replace the Smart on both ends. His main virtues are switching across the board, making aggressive help reads, delivering sharp passes and making the indefinable game-winning plays he makes throughout a game. While some of the remaining guards can do some of those things, they can’t just get more minutes and be able to do it all in one package like Smart can.

Derrick White’s defensive role will likely remain the same as his core ability is point-of-attack defense against ball handlers. His style is different from Smart’s as he is less physical on the initial attack and tends to guide the driver into a tightly contested floater or off-balance layup. Smart would bully guys and get under their skin. It’s just a different edge that he plays with, and that was at the heart of how this team defended. Without him to set the tone, and especially with Porziņģis’ lethargy creeping in, they need to find a new source of energy.

So on offense, Smart just had this flair that allowed him to get deep into the defense and make difficult plays. He was the Celtics’ best playmaker on a team that just didn’t move the ball with much creativity. So much of that came from Smart and his ability to both get the offense set up early in a possession and then make a crucial rim read late in the game. White is expected to run points now and his game is more limited. He has one driving style, one flow and hasn’t shown quite the same passing instincts. He is solid, but does better with the ball than on it.

Malcolm Brogdon knows most of these things that make a starting point guard thrive. He is a good pull-up scorer who can drop a shoulder into a defender and hit most spots on the court. Brogdon didn’t run points consistently and often attacked off the catch, but he has enough experience running an offense to work well next to all of Boston’s scorers in a bigger role.

But the Brogdon situation could be dire. A year ago, he greenlit a deal with the Celtics for a chance at a title, played a pivotal role in their run, then got hurt. He expected to return to the team, but it was hardly a surprise when they tried to trade him, considering the rumors swirled for weeks. Once the trade goes away and the team’s willingness to part ways with you is confirmed, it’s hard to rebuild that bridge from the ashes.

That’s especially after he sacrificed a starting and typically closing spot to join the Celtics. And even more so after rumors of his injuries dominated the story. But Stevens said Brogdon’s hamstring tear will be OK in the near future.

“Our doctors and him have been really consistent with — he’s been feeling better and better and better and he’s going to continue to do that and it’s going to be monitored,” Stevens said of Brogdon after the draft. “If they have to go in and do it, then he can choose it. But he can also choose not to do it the way he feels. We are very confident that he will be on the pitch and be good. So that’s it.”

The good news is that the team acquired an additional first-rounder for next season in the Porziņģis deal, a top-four protected pick from a Warriors team that was drafted 19. The draft allocation next year is interesting because Brad Stevens ‘ front office made it clear they’re not big on late starters last week. They traded up from 35 to 25 in the Smart deal, then traded back several times on draft night until eventually selecting versatile wing guard Jordan Walsh at No. 38 and accumulating four more future second-rounders. Many teams are going after early second-round picks lately, especially under the new CBA, so they can structure deals to fit their plans instead of paying the fixed rookie scale.

Especially after acquiring Dallas’ second-rounder next summer, a first is easy to move in full Brad Stevens tradition. He joked after the draft that he will make a first-round pick at some point, and this gives the Celtics the chance to make another key move and still work to rebuild the rapidly evaporating prospect pool. But they’ll need to cash in some of those chips now to fully make this roster.

“We want to be in the mix,” Stevens said. “We want to give ourselves our chance to be the best team we can, so we’re going to do everything we can to do that. Obviously, there are some tools at our disposal and other tools that won’t be for our dispensers, depending on how everything kind of shakes out.”

Tagging a first-rounder would help send Brogdon to a team tired of its injury history that could deliver either a dribble-penetrating guard or a veteran wing to replace Grant Williams. Boston really needs to keep Brogdon, but the cat is out of the bag.

And that’s before even getting to Payton Pritchard.

The fourth-year guard, who already turns 26 in January when he finishes his rookie contract, no longer has the luxury of time to earn himself a big deal. Pritchard will enter his prime come limited free agency, and if he gets a four-year deal, it’s potentially the best contract he’ll get in his career. He was clear that he wanted a fresh start elsewhere to get real minutes through this past season, and his teammates — primarily Smart, of all people — publicly supported that desire. It’s rare teammates suggest a player deserves more and say he should audition for the rest of the league, but everyone could see how unfair last year was to Pritchard after what he did in the finals.

So it’s going to take some convincing to make him comfortable staying in Boston after anticipating an offseason trade for months. If he’s the primary backup point guard, the case can be made he’ll get a similar rotation spot to most other places he could be moved. At this point, Pritchard must do what is best for himself and secure the bag. The public will often glorify championships and assume that role players would love to just get a ring, but it’s different when you have a narrow window to make life-changing money.

Then there is the conundrum of Grant Williams. Al Horford is nearing the end of his career — something we’ve been saying for some time — and Williams was supposed to be his successor in the 4/5 spot entering last year. With the Porziņģis deal, the Celtics are probably out on Williams. Teams just don’t pay four big double-digit salaries. Williams is likely going to make more than Rob Williams and Horford when he makes his next deal in the coming weeks.

A sign-and-trade for Williams is the most likely path, as he’s a better fit for a team looking to take the next step toward contention. There are plenty of them on the market and he has attracted a lot of interest. But can the Celtics get something valuable in return? Teams will often do a sign-and-trade even when it’s not necessary to simply create a trade exception, but the Celtics will likely need more forward and guard depth even entering the season.

In the end, this trade will likely cost Boston both Smart and Grant Williams. The comeback was worthwhile, but there’s still this uncertainty about how this team will be hungry to not get caught flat-footed like they did against Miami. They look more like a 2K team filled with established players than an identity-driven team that punched above its weight like they were two seasons ago.

During the playoffs, the players publicly argued about having a more defensive identity in order to win in the playoffs. This move was a double down on scoring. It was a retreat from dominating the defensive perimeter to taking on drivers of all shapes and sizes to be denied above the rim by the Celtics’ towering frontcourt. There is so much going on with this team that they can no longer live in the past and hold on to what Smart and Grant Williams brought. These elements of toughness, creativity, tenacity and aggression are essential for any team to win a title. The Celtics still need to find it out there, and they have the tools to make it happen.

(Photo by Brad Stevens: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

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