Celtics

Report: Celtics more likely to trade Marcus Smart than extend him

Smart was drafted by the Celtics in 2014.

Marcus Smart
Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart could be on the move this summer, per a report. AP Photo/Adam Hunger

Update: According to the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, Marcus Smart “isn’t going anywhere.”

For years, Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been mentioned in trade rumors, but Danny Ainge always valued him highly and refused to give him up for a lackluster package.

Now, Brad Stevens is in charge, and he might be motivated to make a move. According to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, the Celtics are more likely to trade Smart this offseason than offer him an extension. Hours before NBA free agency officially opens, Mannix wrote that Stevens has grown weary of Smart’s inconsistent play, and that the acquisition of Josh Richardson could signal the end of Smart’s tenure in Boston.

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Smart will be an unrestricted free agent next summer if he and the Celtics can’t agree on an extension.

The Celtics drafted Smart — who is the longest-standing member of the roster — with the sixth pick in the 2014 draft, which proved to be the only season the Celtics missed the playoffs during Brad Stevens’ tenure as head coach. Smart endeared himself to many Celtics fans with his instinctive, infectious defensive play, but other factions complained about his shot selection and his struggles from 3-point range.

Smart averaged 13.1 points and 5.7 assists last season, shooting 33 percent from 3-point range on 5.9 attempts per game.

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Per Mannix, the Celtics looked into trading Smart during the season, but ultimately Ainge’s asking price — multiple first-round picks — proved too rich for suitors.

The Celtics need depth at point guard, and Smart has proven an effective pass-first lead ball-handler at times. If they trade him, expect to see a somewhat splashy addition beyond simply adding Isaiah Thomas — another rumored target of Stevens. Mannix named Spencer Dinwiddie and Patty Mills, although Dinwiddie’s reported asking price could be prohibitive.

Whoever the Celtics acquire will be asked to accentuate their young core: Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. One common thread that seems to run through all Celtics rumors at this stage: Stevens wants to maintain cap flexibility for next summer. Notably, Tatum’s good friend Bradley Beal — who averaged 31.3 points per game last season — will be an unrestricted free agent after this year.

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“We have a good foundation,” Stevens said after the NBA Draft last week. “We know who we are building this thing around and we know what we are trying to accomplish. At the same time, we have to make sure we are making continuous forward strides and it’s really important that we bring in the right people that can help accentuate each other.”

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