The Hawks’ trade season began yesterday, as they sent Cam Reddish to New York for Kevin Knox and a protected first-round pick. But make no mistake, the wheeling and dealing is only just beginning. According to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, everybody is on the table for trade except for Trae Young and Clint Capela. This could mean a blockbuster is brewing, but I think the Hawks would be wise to focus on experienced players with a defense-first mindset, and nobody fits that description better than the Celtics Marcus Smart.
Smart’s one of the more polarizing figures in the NBA, but he’s exactly what this team needs. The Hawks have arguably the worst perimeter defense in the league. Smart would help them infinitely in that area, but beyond that, his tenacious energy and will to win is something that’s severely lacking in the Hawks locker room. Above anything, the Hawks need a leader, someone with a chip on their shoulder. Smart is precisely that, and his defense is just the icing on top.
Offensively, Smart’s never seen a shot he doesn’t like, which isn’t necessarily a good thing because he’s not a very good shooter. For his career, he’s shot just 31.9% from behind the arc, and this season, it’s been even worse — 30.4%. Still, his fearlessness to shoot forces defenses to respect him, and he makes up for his poor shooting with his passing ability. Overall, his offense leaves much to be desired, but he’s still an above-average piece on that end.
Like the Hawks, the Celtics are at a crossroads. Just a few years ago, they were looked at as an organization with loads of young talent poised to threaten in the Eastern Conference for the next decade. That hasn’t come to fruition, though, and they’ve quickly become a borderline playoff team. The Celtics appear to be open to shaking things up, and Smart is likely a player they would be willing to move.
The most unattractive part about a potential trade for Smart is his contract. The Celtics recently handed him a four-year contract extension worth more than $76 million, which begins next season. That’s quite a commitment for an erratic player that the Hawks would have to take on, but they have similarly burdensome contracts that they could offer the Celtics in return, like Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari — two players that could also help Boston continue competing.
Smart wouldn’t be the sexiest signing, and his contract makes him less appealing, but he could be what this Hawks team needs. Adding energy, defense, and experience has to be the top three priorities for Travis Schlenk heading into the trade deadline, and Smart checks all of those boxes.
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