Former Top Pick Could Make Marcus Smart ‘Dispensable,’ Says Insider

Marcus Smart floated as trade target for Blazers

Getty Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics.

Not too long ago, it appeared that trading Lonzo Ball was a forgone conclusion for the New Orleans Pelicans. However, the UCLA product has since seen an uptick in production. The former No. 2 overall pick is averaging career-highs across the board, leading many to believe that he will ultimately stay put at the deadline.

Yet, on the other hand, Ball’s improved play has likely bumped his trade value.

The Pelicans are on the outside looking in of the Western Conference, tied for 11th-place with a 15-21 record, meaning that if a team came calling with a viable offer in hopes of acquiring the 23-year-old point guard, chances are New Orleans would at least listen.

One of those teams that could potentially be on the other line is the Boston Celtics.

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Lonzo Ball Entices as a Potential Celtics Target

The Athletic’s Jay King and Jared Weiss recently took a jab at a handful of fan-suggested Celtics trades. As one would expect, the typical run-of-the-mill names such as Victor Oladipo, John Collins and Harrison Barnes dominated the column. Yet, it was Ball who garnered arguably the most intrigue from the two Celtics beat writers.

“Ball is one of the best targets for Boston on the market,” Weiss claimed, in response to a trade proposal that would cost the Celtics two picks in return. “He is such a versatile player that he can slide in and complement anyone in Boston’s core and impact both sides of the ball.”

We’re all well versed on Ball’s passing abilities, and while he’s averaging just 5.1 dimes per game, that has much to do with the fact that he’s sharing the court with playmakers Brandon Ingram and Eric Bledsoe. Yet, far less unknown about Ball is his development as a shooter. The California native is shooting a career-best 42.8% from the field. Furthermore, he’s knocking down 38.7% of his three-point attempts –– an 8.2% jump from his rookie season –– while hitting 40.4% of his catch-and-shoot threes.

A Future Marcus Smart Replacement?

Despite all the growth Ball has shown as a shooter, the most tantalizing aspect of Ball’s game may actually come on the defensive end.

“He also gives the Celtics another option to be their star defender as he can be one of the league’s best guard and wing defenders when he gets a big assignment,” Weiss said. “It remains to be seen whether he can be an elite defender 24/7 like Smart, but he can do it enough of the time that he could make Smart dispensable if the Celtics need to use him to acquire another offensive star.”

The idea of Smart being “dispensable” is certainly bold, especially after seeing how the team has operated without him on the court. Yet, while he’s widely perceived as the heart and soul of this Boston team, the Celtics may be left with no other choice but to eventually dangle Smart in a trade. With Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown essentially untouchable, and a limited quantity of intriguing youngsters at their disposal, Smart may be the team’s best option to yield a viable option on the trade market later down the line.

While Ball heading to Boston certainly has its intrigue, any move for the fourth-year pro appears unlikely at this moment. “Trade talks involving Ball have fizzled for now,” according to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor. Although, that’s not to say trade talks can’t heat back up over the next two weeks.

“Trading the 23-year-old will remain a possibility, especially since the Pelicans are expected to be active ahead of the trade deadline,” O’Connor wrote. “Executives say they could be buyers or sellers, depending on what direction the trade winds blow.”


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