Bucks Have Competition With Lakers for Former Celtics DPOY: Report

Marcus Smart, Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Marcus Smart defending Deni Avdija.

With the NBA trade deadline on February 8, the Milwaukee Bucks have ways that they need to improve. Of the needs for the team, the Bucks have to add a POA defender.

Marcus Smart, a former Boston Celtics star, could be the perfect solution to a defense that’s struggled guarding guards all season.

According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the Bucks have called the Memphis Grizzlies about Smart. However, the Grizzlies have not shown any signs of wanting to deal him.

The Los Angeles Lakers are also interested.

“While several clubs — including the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers, sources said — have phoned Memphis about obtaining defensive stalwart Marcus Smart, the Grizzlies have shut down any overtures for the veteran guard, sources said.”

Memphis is 18-30 and in 13th place in the Western Conference. Due to injuries to Ja Morant and others, including Smart, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see them move on from players who can bring them assets back. While it’s not confirmed that Smart will stay, Fischer indicates that they’ve shut down these conversations.

Bucks general manager Jon Horst has his eyes set on the right type of player to fix this defense, which ranks 19th in the NBA in terms of defensive rating.

Bucks Have Interest in Improving Perimeter Defense

The Milwaukee Bucks, despite likely not being able to land Smart, have an interest in other players. According to Fischer in a different article, the Bucks have shown that they’re willing to move pieces in exchange for a perimeter defender.

“Milwaukee is exploring a range of options to improve its perimeter defense, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Milwaukee has contacted various teams about what it could return with the second-round pick it will receive from Portland, sources said, which currently stands as No. 35 in the 2024 NBA Draft. There are some front-office figures who view that type of selection as more valuable than or the equivalent of a late first-rounder because the pick isn’t bound to a rookie-scale and carries lower tax implications.”

Of the players that the Bucks are willing to trade, Pat Connaughton, Cameron Payne, and possibly Bobby Portis could be on the move, per Fischer.

“With their early second, the Bucks are considering different combinations of trades that could move veteran wing Pat Connaughton, plus reserve guard Cameron Payne, sources said, to help fortify Milwaukee’s defensive rotation.”

Fischer added the Portis note later in the article.

“For Milwaukee to get into the salary ballpark for either difference-maker, the Bucks would have to include Portis and his $11.7 million figure.”

The Lakers and Bucks Have Limited Assets

With Fischer reporting that the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers have interest in adding former Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, Memphis could be uninterested due to the team’s limited assets.

In terms of picks, both teams are shallow with what they can offer. Neither team has much young talent and unless the Lakers wanted to include Austin Reaves, the Grizzlies wouldn’t get much value back. The Bucks have that No. 35 pick and MarJon Beauchamp, but that’s not a great return for a player of Smart’s caliber.

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