Warriors' giant trade mistake becomes painfully obvious again in Game 1 of NBA Finals

2024 NBA Finals - Game One
2024 NBA Finals - Game One / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

As Kristaps Porziņģis went about making his sensational return for the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night, there should've been some sense of disappointment for Golden State Warriors fans watching on.

Having not played since Game 4 of the first-round series against the Miami Heat, Porziņģis was simply incredible in recording 20 points (8-of-13 shooting), six rebounds and three blocks in just over 20 minutes off the bench during the Celtics emphatic 107-89 victory at TD Garden.

The Golden State Warriors decision to trade for Chris Paul, not Kristaps Porzingis, was a giant mistake the franchise should come to regret

Boston had acquired Porziņģis at essentially the same point Golden State had traded for Chris Paul last off-season. It was a sliding doors moment, with the fortunes of each franchise having drastically differed since.

That's not to say the Jordan Poole for Paul move was a bad trade, but one can only think that Porziņģis would've been a far better and more impactful fit that may have been realistic. The Latvian big man did have a player option entering last offseason, meaning he would've needed to be more accepting of a move to the Warriors than a normal trade scenario.

Porziņģis' Game 1 performance is far from the first time this has been put on the agenda. The 28-year-old had been identified as a player the Warriors should monitor a week before he was traded to the Celtics, and since then their missed opportunity has reared its head on multiple occasions.

Golden State's decision to trade for a six-foot, then 38-year-old point guard in Paul rather than a big man like Porziņģis was criticized by the end of December -- just over two months into this season. In January, The Athletic's Tim Kawakami reported on discussions within the Warriors organization, stating that "there has been some talk about maybe just go get a seven-footer who can score." Porzingis would have perfectly fit the bill, yet he was too far gone and enjoying life as a Celtic.

Porziņģis return was also a reminder of his lengthy injury history, and yet he's far too talented a player, and the exact type of player the Warriors should've tried harder to take a gamble on. Nearly a year on and their once again searching for a player who provides more scoring and shooting in the front court, all the while the 7'3" Porziņģis is drilling jumpshot after jumpshot in the NBA Finals.