Chris Forsberg

Porzingis eager to bring ‘fire' to his new Celtics team

The newest member of the C's sat down with our Chris Forsberg for an exclusive 1-on-1.

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BOSTON — The Celtics are not asking Kristaps Porzingis to replace Marcus Smart but the two are inextricably tied based on the three-team trade that delivered the 7-foot-3 center to Boston. After being introduced Thursday evening at the Auerbach Center, Porzingis stressed that his goal is to win over a new fan base by simply being himself on the court.

"I think I'm going to have to prove it, first, on the court and off the court,” Porzingis told NBC Sports Boston. "Of course, you cannot replace Marcus Smart. He was a special player and special for this organization and this community … I look forward to also bringing high effort and high energy and hopefully give a fire to this team and gain the fans' respect and support.

"As I said, you cannot replace him. But I look forward to coming in here as myself and gaining the fans' trust.”

Celtics Talk: Kristaps Porzingis on sweet dreams of Boston and planning on an extended stay | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

During a post-introduction sitdown, Porzingis detailed how he went to sleep after the first iteration of a Boston trade crumbled with hopes that he would still be heading to Boston when he awoke. Porzingis said he went to bed around 4 a.m. in his native Latvia and awoke to news of the new deal.

"I could have ended up somewhere else in the morning but I was hoping for this option to happen. And it happened,” said Porzingis. "I woke up and had an amazing day because of those good news that I received in the morning.”

Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said the team is hopeful to retain Porzingis long term and suggested the two sides would visit extension options this summer. Porzingis told NBC Sports Boston that he would like to be in Boston long-term.

"Of course. Of course,” said Porzingis. “The idea of being here for a long time, it would be what I want. And when the time comes, it's hopefully going to be a discussion and we'll see.”

Porzingis opted into a $36 million final year of his current contract. The Celtics can offer him up to a two-year, $77 million extension this summer, or explore longer-term options in December.

Porzingis expressed a desire to bring out the best in Boston’s superstar tandem of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

"I think it's going to come natural,” said Porzingis. “I’m going to figure how those guys play, all the small nuances, and they're going to figure out my game. And we're just going to need maybe a little bit of time to make it look like — where it's just with an eye contact, we know what what the other guy is thinking.”

Porzingis knows he’s been brought here to help deliver an elusive Banner 18. After the introduction, he posed in front of the 17 banners hanging inside the Auerbach Center while holding his new No. 8 jersey.

“I wouldn't say pressure, but like responsibility,” Porzingis said of the banners. “It gives you a little bit of that feeling responsible. This is a historic franchise, many championships, and this is their DNA. They want to win, right? It’s a big honor and very exciting to hopefully be a part of that going forward.”

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