As the trade deadline nears, discussions around the Boston Celtics and Danny Ainge’s next move have began heating up. Over the past weekend, there were a few reports and, just yesterday, we had a new rumor come about with talks of longest-tenured player, Marcus Smart, being dealt to the Denver Nuggets.

Having already come to an agreement to sign veteran big-man, Greg Monroe, to give the team more length and interior size this past week, many still believe the Green will be in the hunt for another player before the deadline passes. As the bench has struggled mightily this year to produce points at times, the popular belief is Ainge and company will go out and find a scorer a la Lou Williams or Tyreke Evans before the deadline passes.

While both of these players are still available as neither have been traded yet, the clock is ticking and with each day that passes, both their respective teams, the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies, lose leverage as neither are yielding great offers as is. Yet in the same sense, one would think if Ainge was as interested as it’s been reported, he’s running the risk of losing out on landing one of them. However despite this notion, this may not be the case.

Per a report from the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, the Celtics could still be in play for either of them but are more likely to try and find a player through the buy-out market. It is noted the C’s have been in talks with the Grizzlies but have yet to find “the right price” for Evans (in other words Trader Danny is trying his best to swindle Memphis) and that they are probably not going to pursue Williams that hard from Los Angeles. As Boston fans have learned around here though, anything goes with Ainge.

Although getting a player off the buy-out market might not be as sexy a move as getting a big name player at the deadline, this would give the team a little longer to assess how they want to go forward and what type of piece might fit best to help the team’s scoring issues down the road. The front office has yet to officially sign Monroe actually and still need to determine how much of the Disabled Player Exception (DPE) that they will use to get him.

Terry Rozier’s performance these last few games might have fanned the flames on the idea of adding that type of piece but one can flip that argument on it's head and suggest the reason he played so well was because it was with starters.

It made me question a little that while sharing a backcourt with Marcus has made Terry a better defender, could that also be the reason he has been so inconsistent in the past at times on offense? Realistically unless Marcus Morris is coming off the bench, which he hasn’t a few times, Rozier is our best bench scorer now and having to carry that load while someone as inefficient as Smart is basically your wing-man running the show with you, it starts to make sense why he looked so much more comfortable with the starters.

Regardless if it’s a buyout option or an Evans, Williams, etc, off a trade, this is the type of piece that could make a big difference down the home stretch and is a very necessary one at this point in time. I actually believe there’s a way Ainge could maybe get an incredible deal for Evans and continue to build for the future.

Even though I love what Smart brings on defense and the amount of effort and heart in his game, most players that are borderline good defenders that come to play for Brad Stevens become very dependable on that side of the ball. I’d love it if Ainge could offer Smart, a young prospect, say Abdel Nader, our 2018 first-rounder, and the Clippers 2019 rights for Evans and the Memphis 2019 first-rounder’s protection dropped.

From a basketball perspective, if Tyreke improved a little on defense playing for Stevens, with the help of his shot-creating ability and overall awareness, the Green should see a dramatic boost from off the bench if that were to be the role he played. While the C’s will lose Smart’s late-game antics and relentlessness on defense, who’s to say a nine-year veteran wouldn’t buy into the team’s defensive philosophy leading it on a potential championship run?

Evans currently boasts the league's 25th-best real plus-minus of 3.28 compared to Marcus' RPM of -.50, which doesn't even land in the league's top 150 best. With the addition of Monroe too right now and the playoffs approaching, Nader’s minutes should drop, maybe completely.

As far as draft capital goes, the Clippers 19’ pick may be useless now considering LA is heading to a rebuild and the pick is lottery-protected for two years before it defers to a second-rounder. So along with our own late first-rounder, you wouldn’t be giving up much of value at all besides potential draft-and-stash picks and if you had the MEM 19’ protection dropped, you’d probably be in line for another top pick.

For those questioning why Memphis might make that trade I think if they liked Smart enough and got his word that he’d sign an extension beyond this year, they might be willing to commit to his future. He is only 23-years old after all and arguably one of the better defenders across the league. While his shot still hasn’t developed consistently, the Grizzlies would be the perfect type of team to be able to risk signing him to $14-15 million a year deal for a few years and seeing what he develops into.

They may also believe that a team of a healthy Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Smart and their 2018 first-round pick (should be top five) could be a solid enough core to give up their 19’ protection as maybe the pick would fall out of the top 8 (where it’s protected right now) with that group anyway. With the current protections on the pick, the Grizzlies will have to surrender it by 2021 regardless as it’ll be unprotected then. Take into account Nader and the additional first-rounders that they'd receive (well, at least one) and it may be enough to at least get the ball rolling on talks around such a deal.

Anyway, that’s one of many ideas that I’m sure will be pitched by fans like myself and media members alike in coming days. Whatever is decided, considering their recent track record, the Celtics should fare pretty well from which ever choice Ainge, Stevens, and the rest of them come up with.

Follow Brendan on Twitter for more Celtics/NBA news at @brendan_ronan_

Photo via Tim Bradbury, Getty Images
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Photo via NBC Boston Local

Unknown 2/06/2018 07:00:00 AM Edit
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