Marcus Smart

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Carter, Nets

The Celtics would benefit more from a Marcus Smart return than a Gordon Hayward one, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes. The scribe suggests that the reserve guard would help the C’s snap out of their recent skid.

For starters, Blakely cites the drop in the Celtics’ defensive rating pre- and post-Smart injury. Boston was second in the NBA with a 99.7 defensive rating before he injured his hand and have been ninth since. Blakely also points to Smart’s effect on team chemistry and the pressure he takes off fellow defenders as reasons why the C’s would be buoyed by his return.

In late December it was announced that Smart would miss two weeks due to a hand laceration that may or may not have been sustained punching a picture frame. The 23-year-old is expected to be back in the lineup after the All-Star Break.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets will need to shore up their defense and rebounding if they want to turn a recent losing skid around after the All-Star Break, Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes. “We’re trying the best we can to find the right lineups that work out there,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We’ve tried a bunch of stuff. We’ve gone small a ton, we’ve tried bigger lineups, we’ve tried two-guard lineups. We’re still searching.
  • The Raptors have put a possible Vince Carter reunion on hold for at least the rest of this season, Josh Lewenberg of TSN tweets. Reports last week indicated that Toronto had interest in potentially bringing Carter back, but the Kings prefer not to buy out the veteran forward.
  • The Knicks have limped into the All-Star break on an eight-game losing streak. Rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina, one of the 10 players chosen to represent the World Roster at the NBA Rising Starts Challenge tonight, hopes to take the weekend as an opportunity to take his mind off things and soak in advice, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes.

Trade Rumors: Suns, Smart, Pistons, Ferguson

While Suns general manager Ryan McDonough is working the phones, one source tells Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic that there hasn’t been a whole lot of Suns-related chatter this week. The odds of Phoenix completing a major deal in advance of the deadline appear slim, according to Bordow.

Still, as Bordow details, there are a few Suns players who make some sense as trade candidates. The team would like to shed Tyson Chandler‘s contract, which includes a $13.6MM guaranteed salary for 2018/19, a source tells Bordow. Alex Len, who wants to be a starter – or at least a backup on a contender – next season, is another trade candidate. As is Troy Daniels, who says he’s prepared to move if necessary, but would rather stay in Phoenix for now.

“I’m prepared for whatever. I’ll be prepared to play wherever it is,” the fifth-year Suns guard told Bordow. “Everything is smooth running right now. If I was going to get traded I would like it to happen in the summertime.”

Here are a few more trade notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Marcus Smart trade rumors may be somewhat overblown, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald, who writes that the Celtics will likely only move Smart if they can land a player who helps the team more this season — or if they can acquire a draft pick that can be flipped to secure a player who fits that bill. Bulpett also expressed skepticism that Boston will surrender Smart solely for a rental player.
  • Based on the Pistons‘ cap situation, Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press believes it’s “highly unlikely” that either Luke Kennard or Stanley Johnson gets moved before Thursday’s deadline. Both players will attract interest from other teams, but their affordable contracts are valuable to the Pistons, who are on the hook for a few big contracts, including Blake Griffin‘s.
  • Several teams have expressed interest in Thunder rookie Terrance Ferguson, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. However, those teams came away with the impression that Oklahoma City has no desire to move Ferguson, as we heard earlier this week.

Mannix’s Latest: G. Hill, Hornets, Hawks, Suns

The Cavaliers continue to engage the Kings about a possible George Hill trade, sources tell Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports. However, the Cavs would like to include both J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert in their package for Hill, and taking on multiple expensive non-expiring contracts doesn’t appeal to Sacramento. Meanwhile, the Kings are quietly looking to get a third team involved in a potential deal, according to Mannix.

Mannix’s latest trade rumor roundup features several more tidbits of interest related to Thursday’s deadline, so we’ll pass along the highlights…

  • The future of GM Rich Cho in Charlotte is uncertain, which may complicate the Hornets‘ deadline plans. According to Mannix, there are rumblings about former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak being a candidate to join the Hornets’ front office in the offseason. Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times wrote last week that Kupchak is considered likely to be hired by an Eastern Conference team this summer.
  • Some teams with interest in Marcus Smart view the Celtics‘ asking price of a first-round pick as “unrealistic,” says Mannix.
  • The Hawks have made “everyone” available, and while much has been written about the club’s veteran trade candidates, second-year swingman Taurean Prince is another player who has drawn interest, according to Mannix.
  • The Magic have shopped Mario Hezonja “hard” in recent days, per Mannix.
  • According to Mannix, the Suns are willing to move veterans like Tyson Chandler and Jared Dudley. Neither player’s contract is particularly team-friendly though, so it may be tough for Phoenix to find any value.
  • The Clippers say they’re okay with holding onto DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams through the deadline, but rival clubs are skeptical, says Mannix.

Celtics, Nuggets, Sixers, Heat Remain In Mix For Evans

The Celtics, Nuggets, and Sixers appear to be the current frontrunners to acquire Tyreke Evans from the Grizzlies, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, the Heat have also remained engaged on Evans.

Evans, 28, has been enjoying one of the best years of his NBA career in Memphis this season, averaging 19.5 PPG, 5.0 APG, and 5.0 RPG with a .458/.392/.799 shooting line so far. Based on his terrific production, the Grizzlies are said to be seeking a first-round pick in any deal and are currently holding Evans out of their lineup as they consider their options.

It makes sense that the Celtics, Nuggets, and Sixers would have a leg up on Miami in the pursuit of Evans, since the earliest first-rounder the Heat can trade is their 2023 pick. Denver still has all of its future first-round picks, while Boston and Philadelphia are owed at least one extra first-rounder in addition to holding all of their own. If the Heat want to make a play for Evans, their offer would likely have to include former lottery selection Justise Winslow.

While it remains to be seen what sort of package each team is willing to offer for Evans, Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) hears that the Celtics’ reported hunt for a first-round pick in exchange for Marcus Smart is related to their interest in Evans and Lou Williams. Landing a first-rounder for Smart would allow the C’s to flip that pick – or their own first-rounder – to Memphis for Evans or to the Clippers for Williams, Stein notes.

For now though, the Celtics remain reluctant to include a first-round pick in an offer for a player on an expiring contract, preferring to save those selections for a “more seismic” deal, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe, who classifies Boston’s interest in Williams as “lukewarm.”

Nuggets Have Interest In Marcus Smart

The Nuggets are among the teams that have explored possible Marcus Smart trade scenarios with the Celtics, league sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (via Twitter). A recent report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggested that Boston is willing to move Smart in exchange for a first-round pick.

According to Stein, former lottery pick Emmanuel Mudiay has been made available by the Nuggets in their talks with the Celtics, but it doesn’t appear Denver has been open to including a future first-rounder in an offer for Smart.

Stein isn’t the first reporter to link Mudiay to the Celtics. Over the weekend, Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald said he has heard from a league source that the Celtics and Nuggets have discussed a hypothetical deal of Smart for Mudiay and a draft pick. However, Bulpett added that another league source had denied that account.

If the Nuggets are willing to attach a draft pick to Mudiay in an offer for Smart, it will almost certainly be a second-rounder. While Smart is respected around the NBA for his excellent perimeter defense, his offensive game is extremely limited, and he’s in a contract year, meaning he’ll get more expensive in restricted free agency this summer.

Wojnarowski, who initially reported Smart’s potential availability, appeared today on Zach Lowe’s Lowe Post podcast and expressed skepticism that the Celtics will land a first-rounder for Smart, unless they’re willing to take on long-term salary in return. Woj believes it’s probably more likely that the 23-year-old stays put in Boston through the deadline.

Celtics Notes: Smart, Rozier, Nader, Monroe

The emergence of Terry Rozier may affect the Celtics’ willingness to trade Marcus Smart, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Rozier posted a triple-double earlier this week in his first NBA start, then followed that with a 31-point game.

Smart took over as Boston’s primary defensive stopper on the wing after Avery Bradley was traded to Detroit during the offseason. He has excelled in that role, posting the league’s second highest defensive rating of 98.9 among players averaging at least 30 minutes per game. But Smart will be a restricted free agent this summer, and the Celtics may be reluctant to match a sizable offer for someone who will be sharing time with Rozier.

There’s more today out of Boston:

  • Smart expects to remain out until after the All-Star break with a hand laceration he received by punching a glass picture frame, relays Taylor Snow of Smart, who was angry about misfiring on a potential game-winning shot against the Lakers in a January 23 game, suffered a cut that required 20 stitches. “Being a competitor, missing the last shot, you kind of get upset with yourself,” Smart said. “You rethink about that night and what you could’ve done differently. You kind of replay everything in your head. As a competitor you want to make every shot, especially with the game on the line, and we fell short. So it was just a lot of frustration about my play as well.”
  • The younger Celtics are taking advantage of increased playing time with Kyrie Irving sidelined by a right quadriceps injury, Blakely writes in a separate story. Rozier has been the obvious beneficiary, but rookie forward Abdel Nader has also been making some important plays. “I just think when you’re young and you get the opportunity to play, it’s great experience when you have the responsibility of the game on your shoulders instead of just, you know, when you increase your minutes played,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
  • Once free agent Greg Monroe formally signs, he will make the Celtics the clear favorite in the Eastern Conference, Blakely adds in another piece. The veteran center announced his plans to come to Boston after agreeing to a buyout with the Suns earlier this week. He cleared waivers Saturday and is expected to sign soon. Blakely notes that Monroe will give the Celtics the additional size and inside scoring that they have been needing.

Woj: Celtics Would Trade Marcus Smart For First-Rounder

The Celtics would be willing to trade guard Marcus Smart for a first-round pick, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. On his latest podcast, Wojnarowski says Boston wouldn’t mind moving Smart as long as it doesn’t have to take on much future salary in return.

Smart will be a restricted free agent this summer after he and the Celtics failed to reach an agreement on a rookie contract extension. Woj speculates that the financial uncertainty, coupled with Smart’s difficulties from 3-point range, where he is shooting 30% this season, may make him expendable.

Boston has financial concerns for next season with more than $104MM in committed salaries against a projected $101MM cap. That’s without considering Smart, who will be seeking a substantial raise from this year’s salary of about $4.5MM and could push the team toward luxury tax territory.

Appearing on the same broadcast, ESPN’s Bobby Marks warns that other organizations may be wary of giving up a first-rounder for Smart without knowing how much it will take to re-sign him. Such a move would put someone in the difficult position of having to commit financially to keep Smart or losing a first-round pick for about two months of having him on the roster.

Marks speculates that Smart could have commanded an annual salary of $13MM to $14MM in the summer of 2016, but under current conditions his offers are more likely to be in the $8MM to $10MM range.

Before a recent hand laceration, Smart was averaging 10.1 points and 4.7 assists through 46 games, mostly in a reserve role. He is expected to return sometime in mid-February.

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Sixers, Hornacek, Longstaff, Knicks

Celtics guard Marcus Smart will miss two weeks after he suffered a hand laceration after he punched a picture frame in frustration. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald has more information on Smart’s injury and how the 23-year-old could face discipline from the team.

Per Bulpett, Smart’s story about the incident taking place inside a Beverly Hills hotel room checks out. Smart was reportedly frustrated over a social media post of a female acquaintance, which has since been deleted.

A source tells Bulpett that it is within the organization’s right to issue a fine and/or a suspension to Smart due to the incident. However, head coach Brad Stevens downplayed the situation and said the matter will be handled “internally.”  In 46 games (10 starts) this season, Smart is averaging 10.1 PPG and 4.7 APG.

Check out other Atlantic Division news and notes below:

  • Mike Schmitz of ESPN Insider (Subscription required and recommended) writes that while the Sixers possess an impressive young core headlined by Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, their future franchise star may be 22-year-old Australian Jonah BoldenBolden was Philadelphia’s second-round pick (36th overall) in the 2017 NBA Draft; he currently suits up for Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israeli Premier League
  • While the Knicks went 3-4 on their recent road trip, head coach Jeff Hornacek took several positives out of the stretch, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. With the trade deadline approaching, several Knicks may be on the move, but Hornacek was pleased with Lance Thomasdefense, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke‘s tenacity, and Enes Kanter‘s toughness.
  • With the deadline close, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes that the organization should learn from former president Phil Jackson‘s past mistakes. Instead of trying for a quick attempt at competing with a patchwork roster, the team should stick with its build-and-grow approach.
  • The Knicks cut ties with assistant coach Josh Longstaff (a personal favorite of Kristaps Porzingis) in the offseason and he is now finding G League success as the head coach of the Erie Bayhawks, Bondy writes in a separate story.

Suns Plan To Be Aggressive In Free Agency

Suns GM Ryan McDonough has been encouraged by his team’s progress and is planning to make a strong push for free agents this summer, writes Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic.

McDonough hopes to use cap space and future assets to upgrade the talent level for next season, saying, “The team is ready.” He cites Devin Booker‘s rise to stardom and the improvement of T.J. Warren, which gives the team a solid foundation.

“There are certain core pieces that are starting to solidify,” McDonough said. “I think we’d be foolish or naïve to wait forever or be overly patient. We’ve been, I think, relatively disciplined with contracts we’ve given out in terms of length and dollars, but yeah, we’re planning on being one of five of six teams with a decent amount of cap space, and we’ll see if we can improve the team.”

The Suns will enter free agency with about $20MM to spend, assuming they don’t re-sign center Alex Len, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the team decided not to extend his rookie contract. More cap room could be created by trading veteran center Tyson Chandler, who is under contract for more than $13.5MM next season, and swingman Jared Dudley, who will make $9.53MM.

Bordow lists several potential targets for the Suns, including restricted free agents Clint Capela, Aaron Gordon, Jusuf Nurkic, Elfrid Payton and Marcus Smart, unrestricted free agents Derrick Favors and Tyreke Evans and potentially unrestricted free agents Nikola Mirotic [team option] and Enes Kanter [player option].

The Suns are also in good shape to make a move on draft night, with the potential for three first-rounders. They have their own pick, which is currently at No. 5 in our Reverse Standings, Milwaukee’s selection from the Eric Bledsoe deal, which conveys between No. 11 and 16 and is now 16th, and Miami’s pick, which is top seven protected and is currently at No. 22.

McDonough likes the depth in this year’s draft, noting that it’s particularly strong at center and point guard, two areas where Phoenix needs help.

“One of the things we’re excited about in this draft is if all the players we expect to declare are in, I think the strength of the draft is where we can use some help, at the one and the five primarily,” he said. “We’re kind of searching for answers long-term at those positions.”

The potential to draft a point guard makes it less likely the Suns will try to acquire Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, who has been linked to Phoenix in trade rumors, Bordow adds. Walker is 27 and has an expiring contract after next season, so he may not fit the Suns’ timeline. The team also is reluctant to make any moves that will reduce its cap space for this summer.

“I think for us to significantly cut into that and take us out of the free-agent market or make us less of a player in free agency, we would have to take a really good player coming back in return that fits with our young core,” McDonough said. “When I say young core, I don’t necessarily mean a guy 20 or 21 years old, but not a guy who’s in their 30s and closer to the end of their career than toward the beginning or the middle.”

Celtics’ Marcus Smart To Miss Two Weeks

Celtics guard Marcus Smart is expected to miss approximately two weeks due to a hand laceration, the team announced today in a press release. Smart, who was sidelined for Wednesday’s game against the Clippers, would miss seven more contests if he returns exactly two weeks from today.

The press release issued today by the Celtics refers to Smart sustaining his injury during a “non-basketball incident” prior to the club’s game in L.A. on Wednesday. The fourth-year guard went into more detail this afternoon in a tweet, admitting that he injured his hand when he “swiped at and hit a picture frame on the wall.”

Only Jayson Tatum, Kyrie Irving, and Al Horford have played more minutes this season for the Celtics than Smart, so the club will miss him in its backcourt. With the 23-year-old out of action, Boston figures to rely more heavily on guards Terry Rozier and Shane Larkin off the bench.

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