Marcus Smart started off the new year in impressive fashion, knocking down 42.9% of his 3-point attempts and averaging 13.2 points and 4.2 assists in the month of January. However, a right thigh contusion and a stint in the NBA’s health and safety protocol have halted his hot play for the time being.
Still, despite his recent absence, the Boston Celtics have managed to make do, winning three of their last four games without their starting point guard on the floor. Could this latest string of success sans Smart’s services serve as a precursor of what’s to come in Beantown?
NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski joined ESPN’s “NBA Today” on January 17 where he highlighted a handful of names on the Celtics roster who he believes are up for grabs ahead of the February 10 trade deadline — including Smart, who is currently the team’s longest-tenured player.
“I think Marcus Smart, some of the young players on the roster, second and third-year guards/forwards. I think they’re seeing what the value [is] for those players out there,” Wojnarowski said. “Josh Richardson and Dennis Schroder — that’s a player I think if they can keep building up his value, he’s on a one-year deal, $6 million contract. I think those are all players available in the marketplace.”
Wojnarowski later added, “Can that get them involved in a Ben Simmons? No, it can’t. But I think they still want to find another playmaker wing player to complement the two all-star forwards.”
Schroder Building His Stock
Schroder, who is coming off a solid 23-point, nine assist outing in Boston’s victory over the Pelicans, has now accounted for at least 16 points and/or eight-plus assists in three of the last four games with Smart sidelined. His 15.9 scoring average on the season ranks third on the team behind only the two Jays. While Schroder would keep the Celtics competitive in the interim, his contract situation doesn’t bode well for Boston’s ability to retain him beyond this season, making him an obvious trade candidate.
Richardson remains a bit hit-or-miss in the scoring department but is quietly connecting on 41.1% of his shots from beyond the arc. As for the other young wings Wojnarowski is likely alluding to, Aaron Nesmith has seen a dip in every major statistical category this season while Romeo Langford has logged seven minutes or fewer in seven of Boston’s last eight games.
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Robert Williams Staying Put?
That’s the plan.
“Listen, it’s to build around Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Not to break those two up. And I think the hard part for Boston is what are the other tradable assets that they’re willing to move on from. They don’t want to trade Robert Williams, their young center,” Wojnarowski proclaimed. “That’s a player that they really see, I think at the center — figuratively — of what they’re doing moving forward.”
Williams, who was handed a four-year, $54 million contract extension this past offseason, has taken a leap forward in his development this season, averaging a near double-double on the season and posting 2.1 blocks per game — tied for the third-most in the NBA.