Along with plenty of other tasks, Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens needs to address the Marcus Smart situation this offseason.
Smart is heading into the final year of his contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2022. The Celtics would be foolish to let him possibly walk away for nothing, so Stevens needs to either trade or re-sign him.
A month ago, all signs pointed to the Celtics wanting to re-sign Smart. He is the team’s best defender, the most talented point guard remaining, and a fan favorite. Plus, Smart is a solid role player who can fit into whatever situation presented to him, which would be valuable if Boston acquired another ball-dominant player like the Wizards’ Bradley Beal.
Those previous signs have been flipped on their head, however, as Smart and the Celtics’ new head of the front office are not as close as they seem, according to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix,
“Boston’s acquisition of Josh Richardson could spell the end of Marcus Smart’s run in Boston,” Mannix wrote. “Smart has become a fan favorite over seven years in Boston, but Brad Stevens has been frustrated by Smart’s unpredictable play in recent years, per sources. Two people familiar with Stevens thinking tell SI it’s more likely Stevens will look to trade Smart before the start of the season.”
This news comes as somewhat of a surprise because of the timing. If the Celtics really wanted to trade Smart, it would have made more sense to do it before the NBA Draft. Smart’s value would have been higher then.
“Boston shopped Smart last season, seeking multiple first round picks, a team executive with knowledge of the discussions told SI,” Mannix wrote. “Smart’s value now? ‘Probably a first round pick and a rotational player,’ a high ranking Eastern Conference executive told SI. ‘Might be able to swap him for similar player that fits a positional need. [Danny Ainge] valued him like an All-Star though—he is not.’”
If the Celtics do want to trade Smart, it will be a more complex situation than you think.
Boston is in a precarious spot this offseason. The team doesn’t have much cap space, but they will next season and could sign another max-level player. So, you don’t want to take on any long-term large contracts that will come back to bite you in the future. The best case scenario would be a serviceable point guard on a team-friendly contract – Rajon Rondo comes to mind.
Mannix also reports that the Celtics may be in the market to sign a point guard in free agency, instead of through a trade. He tosses out the names of Spencer Dinwiddie, who may be too expensive, and Patty Mills, who has been garnering the Celtics’ attention for a while.