The Boston Celtics are about to reach a crossroads with Marcus Smart. But they could take preemptive action.
The Celtics are open to trading the fourth-year guard in exchange for a first-round draft pick ahead of the NBA’s Feb. 8 trade deadline, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski revealed Saturday on his podcast, “The Woj Pod.”
“You talk about Marcus Smart, he’s a player that’s available for a first round pick,” Wojnarowski told co-host Bobby Marks, as transcribed by USA TODAY Sports. “If a team was willing to give Boston a first, Boston would look at (the offer).”
Smart will become a restricted free agent in the offseason, which is why Boston would consider getting compensation for the 23-year-old now instead of risking him walking this summer to sign a more lucrative deal, per Wojnarowski.
“He’s restricted this summer — you don’t know what it will cost to keep him,” Woj added.
A voracious defender and high-energy player, Smart contributes to the Celtics in ways that go beyond the box score. But his offensive limitations are glaring: He’s a 35.8 percent career shooter and shoots just 29.3 percent from 3-point range.
The C’s will have plenty of backcourt depth next season with Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier in the fold, and as Marks noted on the podcast, Boston “can’t pay everybody.”
Still, a healthy Smart would be a key asset for the Celtics — who just added veteran Greg Monroe — if they hope to make a title run this season. His defense and hustle are invaluable, and he’s Boston’s longest-tenured player who brings continuity despite his occasionally erratic behavior.
A first-round pick is an enticing return, but Smart, for all his flaws, plays a critical role in the team’s success and only should be parted with if that pick is high on the draft board.