The Boston Celtics have traded Kemba Walker… now what? While Walker’s injuries, age and namely salary bogged down his long-term value for the Cs, his exit from Beantown still leaves a major hole at point guard.
For all the good rookie Payton Pritchard brought to the table, we doubt anyone truly believes Brad Stevens and the Celtics would hand over the keys to their offense to the Oregon product next season. As for Tremont Waters and Carsen Edwards, there’s no certainty that either player is even in the team’s immediate plans.
There is of course Marcus Smart. A well-respected leader in the Celtics’ locker room, the 27-year-old may not be your prototypical point guard, but he is coming off a career season as a distributor — averaged 5.7 assists per game. With that said, if it’s a “true point guard” the Celtics are in search of, then using Smart as collateral could be the team’s best course of action.
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Celtics Send Smart to Denver in Trade Proposal
Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale believes that the Denver Nuggets could use a defensive stalwart. While Smart may have missed out on All-Defensive honors this season, the former No. 6 pick certainly still fits that billing, remaining one of the league’s more prominent on-ball defenders. In return for Smart’s services, the B/R columnist has the Nuggets shipping over two intriguing pieces to the Celtics, as well as a first-round pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Here’s how the entire proposal shapes up:
- Denver Nuggets Receive:
- Marcus Smart
- Boston Celtics Receive:
- Monte Morris
- Zeke Nnaji
- No. 26 pick
“Denver can cobble together a competitive return,” Favale wrote. “Monte Morris is one of the league’s best backup floor generals and slated to start a three-year, $27.4 million deal next season. Zeke Nnaji can sponge up minutes at both frontcourt slots and has three-point range. And the cost-controlled contract of a first-round pick has serious value to a Boston team toeing the luxury-tax line.”
What Morris Brings to the Table; Should Celtics Retain Smart?
Morris, who league MVP Nikola Jokić dubbed a “true point guard” (via SI.com), is coming off a solid campaign where he somewhat helped alleviate the loss of starter Jamal Murray to a torn ACL. His production hasn’t ever been eye-popping — averaged 10.2 points and 3.2 assists per game this season. However, at least part of that can be attributed to Denver’s reluctance to insert him in the starting lineup — despite numerous calls from fans. Still, when called upon, Morris has flashed, namely this postseason. In 10 playoff games this year, Morris saw a boost in both points (13.7) and assists (5.5). His scoring output elevated even more over four of his final six playoff games, where he averaged 22.5 points.
While Morris may not be the full-blown answer at point guard for the Celtics, he’s not a bad place to start. Add in Nnaji’s ability to both guard and make shots, a skillset which Nuggets president Tim Connelly claimed is “really unique for a 20-year-old big,” and you certainly have something here.
With that said, is it worth moving on from Smart? On one end, he’s one year away from free agency and the team could be skittish to dole out $17.2 million in the opening year of his extension. However, on the other end, Smart remains a pivotal piece in Boston’s lineup. While he may not offer the same standard point guard skillset that Morris may bring to the table, do the Celtics really need that? With Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown evolving as playmakers, Smart’s game may not need to change much should they insert him as the team’s lead guard.
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