According to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, the Celtics are in the market for an upgrade at the starting point guard position and are expected to look past Smart, along with every other internal candidate.
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Report: Celtics Uncomfortable With ‘Point Guard Depth Chart Topped by Marcus Smart’
“Unsurprisingly, Boston’s brass isn’t too comfortable opening the season with a point guard depth chart topped by Marcus Smart and Payton Pritchard,” Mannix wrote. “There’s internal interest in Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, though acquiring Dinwiddie — who told SI’s Howard Beck that he is seeking a contract in the five-year, $125 million range — gets financially complicated.”
Mannix also mentions a potential target that’s been floating around in connection with Boston, of late — which is San Antonio Spurs veteran point guard Patty Mills. However, according to SI, the reasoning behind the Celtics wanting to move on from Smart extends beyond expiring contracts and maintaining financial flexibility.
“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. Smart, one of the NBA’s better perimeter defenders, is entering the final year of his contract.”
SI’s Mannix: ‘Stevens Will Look to Trade Smart’
“Boston could extend Smart, but two people familiar with Stevens thinking tell SI it’s more likely Stevens will look to trade Smart before the start of the season,” Mannix added. “Boston shopped Smart last season, seeking multiple first round picks, a team executive with knowledge of the discussions told SI. Smart’s value now? “Probably a first round pick and a rotational player,” a high ranking Eastern Conference executive told SI. [Danny Ainge] valued him like an All-Star though — he is not.”
From a title-contending team on one end of the spectrum to a rebuilding NBA lottery-bound club on the other, Smart’s value varies depending on who you’re speaking to. On one end, Marcus’ hard-nosed defense could be the difference between a trip to the NBA Finals and falling short in the conference semis.
On the other, trading for a player like Smart could turn out to be a rental if and when ideal suitors come along in 2022 when Marcus can become an unrestricted free agent. Hard to envision a rebuilding team willing to part ways with a future first-round pick for a player who could up and leave one year later.
Either way, Stevens will have his pick of the litter while shopping around, if interesting offers for Smart do, in fact, come piling in.