In Marcus Smart‘s seven-year tenure with the Boston Celtics, Smart has grown to become a fan favorite. Many Celtics fans have grown to love Smart so much that they have become unwilling to trade the seven-year veteran or tolerate any hate towards him. Trading Smart has always been a touchy topic for green teamers, but now the Celtics need to make a Marcus Smart trade.
Why Is It Time For A Marcus Smart Trade?
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated is reporting that it is “likely Stevens will look to trade Smart before the start of the season.” Mannix further explained by saying Brad has “been frustrated by Smart’s unpredictable play in recent years.” It seems that Stevens doesn’t value Smart nearly as much as his predecessor, Danny Ainge, once had. Stevens coached Smart for seven years and could be under the assumption that Smart isn’t worth the trouble. Stevens did go out and make a trade for Mavericks guard Josh Richardson, which could signal the end to the Marcus Smart era.
Many believe that Marcus Smart is untouchable because he is a fundamental piece to the Celtics roster. After all, he is the longest-tenured Celtic and has been the defensive anchor for the Celtics in a post-Big-Three era. But riddle me this, if Smart is a fundamental piece, why would the Celtics pursue a Marcus Smart trade?
The “Smart Era” in Boston hasn’t been as successful as the Celtics and Smart had hoped. Since drafting Smart in 2014, the Celtics have lost in the first round three times, one second-round loss, and three losses in the Eastern Conference Finals. Smart is a fundamental piece to a losing Celtics team. This is why the argument about Smart being a fundamental piece to this team shouldn’t even be an argument. The goal in Boston is to win championships, not to lose in the previous rounds.
Smart’s offensive struggles seem to be a common theme through his seven-year career. The 27-year-old point guard has shot the ball 37% in his career and sometimes launches shots from way downtown as if he is Stephen Curry. Not only does Smart struggle on the offensive end, but at times his emotions have gotten the best of him. This isn’t a one-time occurrence, in fact, there have been numerous reports involving Smart’s inability to keep his emotions in check. These range from verbal altercations in the locker room to punching a picture frame that almost ended his career.
Smart’s Defensive Presence Has Gotten Worse
As mentioned above, Smart is seen as the Celtics defensive anchor. But this season, Smart’s defensive presence took an enormous step back. At times, I noticed Smart wasn’t limiting the opposing team’s best player, and in some instances, was actually being outplayed. When Smart and the Celtics visited Zach LaVine and the Chicago Bulls, LaVine torched the Celtics with 30 points. The Celtics rotated players on LaVine, but if Smart is an All-NBA Defensive player and the defensive anchor, shouldn’t he defend the hottest man on the floor at all times?
Not only did Smart fail the eye test, but the numbers don’t help him either. Smart’s career defensive box plus/minus is a 1.1. This past season, Smart’s defensive box plus/minus dropped to -0.2, which is the lowest it’s been since his third season in the league.
What Can The Celtics Get In A Marcus Smart Trade?
The annual “Free Agency Frenzy” has come and gone meaning the Celtics are limited in what packages are still available to them. It was reported that Smart could be moved for Lonzo Ball, but Shams Charania ended that discussion when he announced that Ball is heading to the Chicago Bulls.
The Celtics should target a guard if they decided to pull the trigger on a Marcus Smart trade. Besides Smart, the Celtics have two other point guards on their team, Payton Pritchard and Carsen Edwards. If the Celtics want to bring back a former Celtic, they could negotiate a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers for Rajon Rondo. Rondo was drafted by the Celtics in 2006 and helped Boston capture Banner 17. Rondo has become an NBA journeyman and would bring championship experience to this Celtics team. Rondo is also slated to be a free agent after this season, so this would still leave the Celtics with financial flexibility for next offseason.
Another name to keep an eye on is Reggie Jackson. The Celtics could offer Jackson their $5.9 million taxpayer mid-level exception, which would be an increase in pay from his previous $2.3 million deal. The 31-year-old point guard has spent the last two seasons with the Clippers and was a crucial part of the Clippers’ playoff run. Jackson averaged 17.8 points per game and dished out 3.4 assists in 19 playoff games. Since Jackson is a free agent, the Celtics wouldn’t have to trade Smart for him. This could allow Brad Stevens to address another need on the roster.
What Happens If The Celtics Keep Smart?
If the Celtics decided against a Marcus Smart Trade, then they would most likely lose Smart for nothing. Smart is slated to be a free agent next season and will most likely command about $20 million. This price tag could be too expensive for the Celtics, especially if they sign a marquee free agent like Bradley Beal.
Although some would find it sad to see him go, the Celtics may have no other choice but to find a partner in a Marcus Smart trade. Moving on from Smart could provide the Celtics with a breath of fresh air and maybe that would be the change the Celtics need to return to the Finals.