Despite serving as Boston’s default lead-guard for most of the season, Marcus Smart sparingly looked the part. That is, until his recent string of performances. The former No. 6 overall pick is playing arguably the best basketball of his career, averaging 11.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists over his last six games. During that span, Smart’s knocked down nearly 50% of his shots from the floor and has been a big reason for the C’s mini-surge in the win column.
Once viewed as a glaring weak spot in the Celtics’ starting five, Smart has looked nearly untradable of late. Or maybe, according to Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes, he’s simply upping his stock ahead of the rapidly approaching February 10 trade deadline.
“With their fortunes turning and parity in the East making a move up the standings look relatively easy, now might not seem like the time for the Celtics to cut ties with one of their most important players,” wrote Hughes. “Screw it. Marcus Smart is getting traded anyway.”
Smart on the Move?
The longest-tenured Celtic is no stranger to trade speculation. Smart’s name has been readily floated in trade chatter for much of the past two seasons. One team in particular who has been continuously linked to the two-time All-Defensive First-Team selection over that span is the Atlanta Hawks, who Hughes predicts will land Smart in a trade within the next few days.
“Smart makes all the sense in the world in Atlanta, where the Hawks need a tough defender to a) keep Trae Young from getting cooked by quality offensive threats and b) turn around a culture that seems to have given up on that end,” Hughes noted. “With Smart around diving for loose balls and throwing his body into traffic, it’ll be a lot harder for the rest of the Hawks to get away with anything less than maximum commitment.”
Hughes referenced a January 27 report from his Bleacher Report colleague, Jake Fischer, that cited the Celtics had previously discussed a potential deal with the Hawks that would have swapped Smart for Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish. Of course, Reddish has since been dealt to the New York Knicks. Yet, per Hughes “that doesn’t preclude the two teams from re-engaging on another swap.”
John Collins in Return?
From simply connecting dots, a package centered around Smart and Hawks forward John Collins would appear the most logical. The two were commonly featured in hypothetical proposals leading up to last year’s trade deadline and recent rumblings out of Atlanta point towards Collins being unhappy with his current role, via The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Per Fischer, the Hawks have become more active in shopping Collins and are seeking a first-round pick and a starting-caliber player in exchange for the rising big man. Smart, who’s started 304 games (including playoffs) over his Celtics tenure, certainly fits the bill of the latter. Plus, as Hughes highlighted, attaching veteran wing Josh Richardson to the deal would help Boston dip below the luxury tax.
“Collins was a major force in Atlanta’s surge to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, and Smart has factored into three playoff runs of that depth in Boston,” Hughes said. “Yet both may have reached the end of the line with their respective teams.”
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