The Boston Celtics have a trio of backcourt talents, and if the C’s are going to make a blockbuster trade many fans would like to see them make, at least one of those three players might need to be in the deal.
Sure, the Celtics essentially own the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round picks in both 2017 and 2018, two very valuable assets by themselves. But if the Celtics want to acquire an impact player — think DeMarcus Cousins, perhaps? — they’ll probably need to give up something from their current roster.
Which brings us to the backcourt troika of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart. You could even add Terry Rozier to that conversation, too, albeit to a lesser extent. The Vertical’s Chris Mannix surveyed six general managers, executives and pro personnel scouts about which player — Thomas, Bradley or Smart — would have the most value.
Bradley, according to Mannix, was “by far the most popular” because of his ability at both ends of the court. While Thomas is recognized as the Celtics’ leader and best player, there was concern, Mannix writes, about how a team would have to adjust to having Thomas in the lineup.
“I love (Thomas), but he is a ball-dominant guy,” a team executive told Mannix. “You bring him in, you change your offense to fit him.”
As for Thomas, Mannix notes “execs who loved Bradley were quick to add that they would jump on a deal for Thomas, too,” while one executive gushed about Thomas, saying he was “So dynamic.” There were questions, according to the report, about whether he’d be able to take on a lesser role elsewhere.
The book on Smart was a little bit different. The No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Smart is still developing. His defensive prowess is incredible, but his offense still leaves something to be desired. For that reason, it’s unclear, as Mannix writes, whether he projects long term as a point guard or shooting guard. However, one exec wondered whether Smart ultimately might be a good fit in the Western Conference as a point guard where he’d consistently match up against players like Stephen Curry, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook.
Ultimately, the Celtics probably would prefer to keep all three, but if Danny Ainge really does want to start dipping into the trade market, he might have to part ways with one of the Celtics’ most valuable assets.
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