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New Boston Celtics president Brad Stevens (that’s weird to type) will have a decision to make on star guard Marcus Smart this summer.
Recent reports suggest that the Celtics are going to look to move their longtime defensive ace as part of what could be a wholesale restructure of their roster following a disappointing 2020-21 season.
Unfortunately, it does not seem like the 27-year-old guard is going to have a huge trade market once free agency gets going.
“One league source told MassLive that getting a late first-round pick for Smart would be a challenge unless Boston took back an unattractive contract as part of the deal,” Brian Robb noted recently.
As good as Marcus Smart has been defensively, his questionable shooting splits on the other end of the court have to be considered concerning. The veteran is shooting a mere 38% from the field since entering the NBA as a top-six pick back in 2014. It’s not yet known if a team wants to take on his $14.34 million salary for next season given those limitations.
Defensively, Smart is about as good as it gets. He’s a two-time All-NBA Defensive Team performer and boasts a defensive win shares of 24.0 in seven seasons. Given this success and with teams looking to improve on defense, there’s going to be some market for Smart. If so, here’s a look at three ideal destinations.
Marcus Smart trade to the Portland Trail Blazers
Despite their status as a playoff team this season, the Blazers finished up the regular year with the second-worst defensive rating in the NBA. The addition of three-and-D wing Robert Covington did not help matters in this regard. If Portland wants to take that next step to championship contention with the otherworldly Damian Lillard still committed to the organization, it must upgrade defensively.
That’s where Smart would come into play. Regardless of whether the Blazers move off C.J. McCollum in a blockbuster trade this summer, he would make all the sense in the world. In lieu of giving up a first-round pick in this deal, the Blazers yield the aforementioned Covington in a player-for-player swap. It would work well for both sides.
Marcus Smart trade to the New Orleans Pelicans
Smart played more of a traditional point guard role this season for the first time in his career. It showed with the Oklahoma State product averaging a career-high 5.7 assists per game. That could be an attractive option for teams who are attempting to find a defensive-minded ball-handler who can have success running the offense.
It’s in this that New Orleans would work out well. We’re not sure what the future of this position is going to look like with Lonzo Ball slated to become a restricted free agent and following the struggles of Eric Bledsoe this past season. What we do know is that Smart would be a nice bridge starter in front of 2020 first-round pick Kira Lewis Jr. In return, the Celtics acquire veteran big man Steven Adams to help in the frontcourt and a future first-round pick (via the Lakers in the Anthony Davis trade).
Marcus Smart trade to the Dallas Mavericks
To say that stud guard Luka Doncic needs more perimeter help on defense would be an understatement. Pending free agent Tim Hardaway Jr. is not great on that end of the court. The acquisition of Josh Richardson in the Seth Curry trade also didn’t make much of an impact. Adding the defensive-minded Marcus Smart to the mix would be a coup for Mark Cuban and Co.
Now, how could the Mavericks make this work given their roster make up? Big man Dwight Powell could be of interest to a Celtics team that needs help in the low post. Perhaps, the Mavericks offer up 2020 first-round pick Josh Green to sweeten the pot?