League sources tell Celtics Wire interest is increasing…

More on Marcus Smart Trade?

League-wide interest in trading for Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has increased ahead of the NBA trade deadline, league sources tell Celtics Wire. The price has been a first-round pick and a rotation player according to sources.
Boston has thrived off the sixth man rotation of Smart and Rozier this year, but are well aware of Rozier’s public statements that he wants to be a starter in the near future. His performances of late have proven he is approaching starting-caliber play, even if it’s too small a sample size to be conclusive. Meanwhile, Smart has been comfortable with his sixth man role in Boston and made it clear to the Celtics that he wants to stay long-term, per sources.
But one of the keys to Boston’s plans moving forward is staying in position to strike on Anthony Davis, or any other transcendent player that hits the market. They have more high-value assets to offer than anyone and their plan to wait out the Davis situation is paying off after DeMarcus Cousins’ unfortunate Achilles tear once again puts the prospects of Davis’ long-term success in New Orleans into question. Boston currently doesn’t have much salary to match a trade for Davis without giving up Al Horford, so signing Smart to a market deal would open up a situation similar to what just happened with Blake Griffin. Smart has been looking for a multi-year deal though and would not be interested in a short-term, above-market salary deal per sources.
The Boston Celtics have some decisions to make. After adding Greg Monroe to the team yesterday, the Celtics may not be done dealing. And according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, they could be convinced to part ways with a core member of their team, Marcus Smart.
“You talk about Marcus Smart, he’s a player that’s available for a first round pick. If a team was willing to give Boston a first, Boston would look at,” Woj said in the latest edition of his podcast with Bobby Marks. “If they didn’t have to take back a lot of money going out in the future. He’s restricted this summer, you don’t know what it will cost to keep him.” “He’s proven he can help you win a playoff game or two. He doesn’t shoot great from 3-point line, some of the things you want from a guard in this day and age. He defends, he’s super competitive. But they can’t pay everybody in Boston and they’re going to have to make decisions. But does a team want to give up a first for a player when they don’t know what it will cost to keep him. I’m not sure that will happen. But I think certainly if they were going to make a move with one of their core guys, there’s potential that it’s going to be Smart.”
The Celtics could make Smart available as they try to clear salary cap space to sign Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $128-million deal. But it’s unclear if the Celtics will have to or want to part with Smart if they can work out a sign-and-trade with Utah for Hayward.
Boston has already renounced its rights to Kelly Olynyk, a key offensive spark off the bench with his ability to score from the perimeter. Now it looks as though the Celtics will have to trade away one of its elite defenders in order to continue shedding salary. And the three targets most teams have focused on, are Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart. Terry Rozier is also available, but the market for the aforementioned players has been much stronger.
Because the salary cap did not rise as much as projected, they will likely have to trade one or more of those three players to sign Hayward. Sources told ESPN that Boston has discussed trade concepts involving those players with at least half a dozen teams on Wednesday.
Ian Begley: Boston reached out to people with NYK about Marcus Smart, per sources. The Knicks' level of interest in Smart at the moment is unclear.
Ian Begley: The Knicks continue to be in touch with Rajon Rondo. ESPN reported on the first day of free agency that the Knicks touched base with both Rondo and Darren Collison, though there was no substantive conversation regarding either player. The Knicks have continued to be in touch with Rondo, sources confirm. But there is no scheduled meeting yet. Some people in touch with the Knicks recently came away with the impression that NYK didn't have strong interest in Rondo. The Knicks are looking for a point guard to mentor Frank Ntilikina, according to sources. Derrick Rose and Shelvin Mack are other point guards on their radar. The Knicks heard from the Celtics, who are open to trading Marcus Smart. The club's interest in Smart is not know. The Knicks' most-recent contact with Rondo was first reported by Basketball Insiders.
GM Danny Ainge wanted to acquire another lottery selection in addition to the team’s top-3 pick and he dangled everyone on the team in trade discussions, including Isaiah Thomas, ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan reports. “Before the draft last year, Danny was trying to get two picks, not just Jaylen Brown,” ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan told Bob Ryan on his podcast (h/t Comcast Sportsnet). “He was on the phone with everybody from coast to coast, and he was offering everybody. That includes Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas, and anything else they needed to get where he wanted to go. There were no untouchables on that team last year.”
The Celtics have talked intermittently with the Clippers about Blake Griffin, per several league sources, but a deal is extremely unlikely. Griffin will be a free agent this summer, and Boston would probably need official permission to talk to him about his future -- a concession Minnesota allowed Cleveland before the Kevin Love trade. The Clips would ask for a bounty, starting with Jae Crowder and one of the Avery Bradley/Marcus Smart duo, plus picks, per league sources.
There are rival executives who believe the Bulls and Celtics will rekindle trade talks centered on Jimmy Butler before the Feb. 23 deadline. The teams held serious talks in June, and the Celtics own the same assets — Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, the Nets' first-round picks in 2017 and 2018 — the teams discussed then.
The Celtics have one of the NBA’s better backcourts, a nice blend of offense (Isaiah Thomas), defense (Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier) and a burgeoning star capable of both (Avery Bradley). It’s also one of the league’s most affordable, with Bradley ($8.3 million) and Thomas ($6.6 million) making well below market value, and Smart and Rozier on rookie deals. That will change soon. Smart is eligible for an extension in 2017. A $10 million-plus offer will be the starting point of negotiations. Thomas and Bradley will be free agents in 2018, eligible for max salaries of $32.4 million per season. Neither will likely come near that, but understand: This is the ballpark Boston is playing in. The Celtics won’t pay all of them. They can’t pay all of them, not if they want to continue to pursue another impact player. If the Celtics make a significant trade, it will undoubtedly include one or more of their star guards.
Storyline: Marcus Smart Trade?
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