There comes a time in a relationship where one must realize he or she needs to break it off with the significant other. It hurts to do it. You often ask what if he or she changes. What if I can be better to make us better? And some breakups only happen when there is something better out there.
To bring the Celtics into this analogy, it’s time to break up with Marcus Smart.
This trade would cause rioting in the streets. It would be immensely unpopular with the Green Teamers. And I am in no way willing to trade Marcus Smart away for nothing. But I believe there are teams out there that overvalue what Smart brings just as much as the Celtics fans do.
Let me explain first why I am OK with trading a guy most would consider untradeable. Smart can be the best player on the court in spurts. He can take the opponent’s best player out of the game on defense.
But he can also shoot you out of games during a cold streak. His careless late game turnovers were maddening. There were times in the Raptors series where he let Toronto get exactly what they wanted in a switch of Kemba Walker onto a ball handler. You remember the diving on the floor for loose balls, the steals, the hustle plays. But what about the fourth quarter turnovers vs Toronto and Miami?
As the point guard and leader of the team, you have to understand the options out there on the court with you and find a way to get them a shot or the switch on defense your team is targeting.
I know Celtics fans reading this are yelling at their screens about his incredible fourth quarter in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals vs Toronto. That is good Smart.
I don’t believe Smart can stop shooting the transition 3-point shot with 18 seconds on the shot clock. Or the 3-point attempt after a between the legs crossover with a behind the back stepback. Too often during these playoffs did Smart get shot happy as Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker stood watching on the court with him. Some people call it settling. I call it hero ball. He may be open after the dribble move. It just often not the best shot the Celtics can get on a possessions
He’s not the only one who played hero ball. He’s just the least skilled at it of the Celtics main rotation players. Smart was 37th in the NBA in total 3-point attempts this season with 395. He was also 115th in 3-point shooting percentage at 34.7 percent.
I’m not the first to believe it’s best to move on from Smart. Christian Fauria was once the President of the Marcus Smart fan club. And doing his best Glenn Ordway impression, he flip-flopped and about a month and a half later and was ready to help Smart move out of Boston.
“There are some major issues with how this team is constructed,” Fauria said. “I didn’t want to have to admit it. I didn’t want to have to admit it. You guys talk about Marcus Smart, and I’ve really been riding him for a long period of time. But he’s got to go. He’s got to go. He’s got to go. The fact is that nobody’s growing. Nobody’s growing. It’s delayed their improvement. He’s too ball-hoggy. He’s too overbearing.”
Rich Keefe called Smart the worst player on the court after an Eastern Conference Finals game. After the Celtics lost in Game 6 to Miami, Keefe said “Marcus Smart killed them last night. He took way too many shots. ... Someone needs to let Marcus know that he shouldn't be taking this many shots.”
Keefe’s right and wrong. I think Stevens and other Celtics players have talked with Smart multiple times about his shot selection. It doesn’t matter who talks to him about the volume or timing of his shots. This is his game and you are going to live and die with it. Smart took a team high 13 3’s in Game 6 vs Miami, the final game of the Celtics season.
As for what the return could be, I like a couple options -- hypothetical of course. But in fantasy land, Danny Ainge should consider this:
Trade No. 1: Marcus Smart, Vincent Poirier, No. 26th overall pick in 2020 and the 47th overall pick in 2020 to the Pacers for Myles Turner.
Reasoning: Turner was the 2018-19 NBA league leader in blocks. The Celtics could really use his length and shooting as a big man. Turner is just under 36 percent from deep for his career and often plays on the arc. I think he can be a good option in the pick and roll or pick and pop with this roster. Turner has underwhelmed recently and some of that is attributed to playing in 2 center lineups in Indiana with Domantas Sabonis. People complain about his lack of rebounding production. I’m not too concerned about it if he plays with the Celtics as the only center on the floor.
Trade No. 2: Smart and the Celtics 2020 1st round pick No. 14 (Grizzlies) to the Golden State Warriors for the No. 2 overall pick this year. This was recently brought up by ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Bill Simmons. Lowe said Boston would do it.
Reasoning: Smart has two years left on his deal before he can cash in for $18-20-plus million in free agency in 2022-23. I’m not sure if the Celtics can afford him when you look at their future contracts. Boston will be paying $100-plus million to Tatum, Brown and Walker starting in 2022-23. If you can get a cheap rookie at No. 2 who can play big minutes right away, that’s a major win. The No. 14 is often a fringe rotation player in Year 1. If you look at the consensus of the mock drafts, the guy going at No. 1 is Anthony Edwards. That leaves the Celtics with two great options at No. 2: PG LaMelo Ball and Memphis big man James Wiseman. Can you imagine that Celtics fans? LaMelo, and somewhere lurking is his father LaVar, joining Tatum, Brown and Walker? Wiseman would be a great choice as well. He has a 7-foot-6 wingspan, can be a great lob threat and defends the rim. The concern is he played less than 100 minutes of college basketball. You just don’t know where the development of his game is at.
What we do know by now is what the Celtics have in Smart. And that's why we're having this conversation.