COJ: Crowder, Smart to return Tuesday and a trade idea (update: er, never mind)

Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said both Jae Crowder (knee) and Marcus Smart (toe) will sit out Sunday's practice, but both are expected back in the starting lineup for Tuesday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Crowder bruised his left knee late in Friday's win over the Washington Wizards and had to be helped to the locker room, but was emphatic Sunday that he'd be back for Tuesday's game. Smart sprained the big toe on his left foot last week and has missed the last two games.

Source: Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston

You know you've been suppressing emotions when this news comes across your timeline and you physically let out a loud sigh of relief. OK good, I'm glad we can talk about this now; Marcus Smart had a weird, non-contact, foot injury and suddenly was walking around in a walking boot. Kinda felt, not-so-great, right? Like, you didn't want to overreact so externally you kept your cool, but internally you're mixing in an obscure combination of swear-words with 'of course.'

Well * knocks on all of the wood *, it looks like things aren't too bad as Smart (as well as Crowder) are set to return this week.

UPDATE: Well, looks like we spoke too soon

Start Your Morning Off With... A Quick check-in on how the Lakers season is going

Check out Jordan Clarkson in the top right

Fire Up the Trade Machine!

by Padraic O'Connor

Earlier this week, HBO’s Bill Simmons posed this trade on Twitter:
Hey Bulls - I hate to give them up, but I'll trade you Tyler Zeller and Avery Bradley for Joakim Noah's expiring. Cuts your lux tax by 3m

You still got it, Billy.

Through the first five games the C’s look good, but it is apparent that there are still some questions that need to be answered, specifically in regards to the rotation, who is playing what minutes, and who can be counted on to take big shots consistently. The Celtics have 15 guys who could potentially do it, but don’t have any who have repeatedly done it. It’s an interesting, fun, and fist-through-the-wall frustratingly position to be in.

Avery Bradley-- the longest tenured Celtic on the roster-- and Tyler Zeller-- the pre-season smart pick for a contract extension-- are two roster members who in the early going of this season are drawing question marks as to where they fit in. AB is a tenacious defender, is deadly with the corner three, and wants to add posterizing to his repertoire. Zeller is a solid front court rotational player poised to make a big leap heading into what should be his first NBA payday in the next off-season. Seven-footers who can run, rebound, score, and contribute as as start or off the bench are rare in the NBA. Someone is going to pay him.

So why would the Celtics entertain a trade of two insanely affordable guys who contribute at a high level for an aging Joakim Noah? Like several off the other trades that sent marquee talent out of Boston, it’s not necessarily about addition or subtraction-- it’s about opening lanes for other talent and clearing cap space to make room for a super duper star in case Danny can lure one to our shining city on a hill.

Isaiah Thomas starting helped the Celtics to a HUGE win over Washington this past Friday. Terry Rozier is going to get minutes and look good doing it. Marcus Smart is a pitbull defender and is big enough to handle either position in the backcourt. Coach Brad Stevens has so many backcourt options that even if AB were traded, the responsibilities wouldn’t fall to one man, but to the endless supply of different frontcourt looks he could throw at other teams.

The same goes for Zeller and the front court conundrum plaguing the Celtics. Amir Johnson, David Lee, Kelly Olynyk, and Jared Sullinger are more than enough to shoulder the load left by Zeller, plus it would open up rotational minutes for Jordan Mickey, who is already seeing more playing time than expected early this season.

Oh yea, Boston would also receive an All-Star in Joakim Noah, who will be mentioned in trades all over the place this season as Chicago flirts with hitting the reset button.

Verdict: Pull the trigger. Avery Bradley is on an easy to move contract and for his production is worth every dollar of his $7.7M a year. Zeller is a worthy of starter minutes, and a worthy candidate of a long term deal in the off-season. Joakim Noah’s hefty $13.4M contract goes right in the pile with the other bigs on loan deals floating around the Boston front court-- David Lee’s one-year $15M, and Amir Johnson’s $12 non-guaranteed second year. There won’t be room to pay Sully, all of these guys, and potentially extend Olynyk, so being in a position to pick two or three isn’t a bad spot for Danny and the boys to be.