Jaylen Brown spent the latter part of the offseason and the early parts of the 2020-21 regular season engulfed in trade chatter. However, his ascension into, dare I say, full-blown superstardom, has made the 24-year-old damn-near untouchable.
Shifting focus into the Boston Celtics‘ backcourt, teammate Marcus Smart has enjoyed a breakout season of sorts as well. Readily lauded for his defensive prowess over his previous six pro campaigns, Smart has showcased a budding offensive arsenal, headed by his playmaking skills. Taking on a larger role as a distributor with All-Star Kemba Walker sidelined to begin the year, Smart has averaged 6.0 assists per game, a 24.8% assist percentage and a 15.0 player efficiency rating, all of which mark new career-highs.
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Is Marcus Smart Celtics’ Best Trade Asset?
Smart’s growth on the offensive end has not gone unnoticed. In fact, it’s done the complete opposite, as Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley has dubbed the 26-year-old Boston’s “best trade chip.”
Here’s what Buckley had to say:
The Boston Celtics have a pair of untouchables in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, an on-the-mend All-Star in Kemba Walker, a small collection of role players and a host of prospects who haven’t shown enough pop to be considered a top trade chip. Marcus Smart lies somewhere in between, which earns him sole possession of the top-asset designation.
His toughness and ferocity have ingrained him in the fabric of the franchise, so he wouldn’t be shown the exits in just any deal. But if Boston sensed a soft spot in its roster—say, the Al Horford replacement the team has yet to uncover—then Smart’s $13.4 million salary would almost certainly need to be sacrificed.
Anything short of a blockbuster, though, and the bulldog defender with a better-than-you-think outside stroke (35.3 percent since the start of 2018-19) would be too valuable to let go. The unlikelihood of said needle-mover coming together midseason should keep Smart draped in green and white.
Is Smart Too Crucial to Boston’s Success to Trade?
Even with Kemba Walker back in the lineup, Smart is vital to the Celtics’ success on both ends of the court. Never was this more evident than in Boston’s blowout win over the Cleveland Cavaliers this past weekend, where the two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection flaunted his wide array of facets to his ever-growing game. Smart finished the night with 12 points, nine assists and five steals, the latter two of which were both game-highs.
Furthermore, Smart has been pivotal in Jaylen Brown’s growth as a scorer. In fact, as of earlier this week, Smart’s 40 assists to Brown were the most among any assist combo in the league this season (h/t USA Today’s Chris Forsberg). Add in the fact that Smart is widely considered the heartbeat of the Celtics’ team, per his fellow teammates, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a package worthy of moving off of the 26-year-old.
Smart may see his production take a slight hit with Walker steadily regaining his pre-injury form and rookie Payton Pritchard’s impending return to the court. Yet, Smart will remain an integral part of Boston’s title hopes, regardless of what the box score might say.
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