Celtics Warned Against Trading for Former Top-10 Pick

Celtics would put themselves at risk by trading for Jalen Smith

Getty Jalen Smith #10 of the Phoenix Suns blocks a dunk from Miles Bridges #0 of the Charlotte Hornets.

The Boston Celtics head into Philadelphia on Friday night riding a three-game win streak after back-to-back victories over the Indiana Pacers. Still, there’s undoubtedly plenty of work still to be done for a team that currently sits in 10th place in the East and continues to linger around a .500 record.

Brad Stevens is clearly aware of Boston’s shortcomings, with all signs pointing towards the first-year exec being willing to tinker with his roster ahead of the February 10 trade deadline. As The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on January 10, the Cs are “open for business.” And according to Hoops Hype’s Michael Scotto, Stevens’ search to bolster Boston’s lineup, specifically within the frontcourt, is already underway.

League sources have informed Scotto that the Celtics have expressed an interest in reuniting with Denver Nuggets forward Jeff Green, who previously spent nearly four seasons in Boston in the early-to-mid 2010s. Scotto also highlighted a far more youthful option for the team, noting that the Celtics have reportedly made “several calls” doing their due diligence on a number of players, including the potential availability of Phoenix Suns big man Jalen Smith.

Celtics Would Be ‘Putting Themselves at Risk’ by Acquiring Smith?

If the Celtics were presented with a reasonable opportunity to land a player who just 14 months ago was the No. 10 player selected in the entire NBA draft, they should surely pull the trigger — right? Not so fast.

As Brian Robb of Mass Live pointed out, Smith’s contract situation makes the prospect of acquiring the former Maryland standout far less tantalizing and a bit risky.

“Smith, a former lottery pick is a more intriguing name due to his youth,” Robb wrote, when comparing the 21-year-old to Green. “However, the Suns declined a team rookie option on him before the season, which means any team he is traded to can only offer him a maximum of $4.7 million to re-sign in the offseason. Otherwise, he’s an unrestricted free agent.”

“The Celtics would be putting themselves at risk by acquiring Smith of losing him for nothing in that scenario if he ends up having a breakout second half of the year, something he has shown flashes of in Phoenix during the last month,” Robb added. “Weighing the risk and reward of that possibility will surely bring down what Brad Stevens and other general managers around the league are willing to offer for the 6-foot-10 big man.”

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Celtics Got an  Up Close Glimpse into Smith’s Upside

After being nothing more than an afterthought in Phoneix’s big man rotation for most of his young NBA career, Smith has begun to flash in recent weeks thanks to the wavering availability of Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee. Over the holiday season, Smith enjoyed a brilliant six-game span where he averaged 15.8 points and 10.2 rebounds, which included a 19-point, seven-rebound outing against the Celtics on New Year’s Eve.

As for Green, the 35-year-old veteran is a proven commodity with ties to both the organization and current head coach Ime Udoka. For the Nuggets this season, Green has averaged 10.4 points and 3.1 rebounds over 37 games (25 starts). While he shot a career-best 41.1% from beyond the arc a season ago for the Nets, he’s seen that number dip back towards his previous career average, knocking down 31.5% of his 89 attempts from 3-point range with Denver.

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