The New York Knicks need to take advantage of the desperate need the Boston Celtics have to get rid of Marcus Smart’s salary.
Just when we thought the New York Knicks were out of exciting point guard options, a new contender emerged. This is one you wouldn’t expect. It’s a guy Knicks fans are all familiar with: Boston Celtics point guard Marcus Smart.
Gordon Hayward‘s move to the Celtics was a huge boost to their chances in the Eastern Conference. With Hayward comes a $128 million contract and the need for Boston to create enough salary cap to sign their new star. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Celtics are discussing trades involving key role players Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, and Smart.
The Hayward signing means that Boston is finally out of the Carmelo Anthony business. That’s bad news for acting president, Steve Mills. Boston was rumored as an interested trade destination for Anthony for months. If the Knicks are smart, however, they’ll still try and get a deal done with Boston. It will just be a different one.
Per Woj, Boston has “discussed trade concepts” involving that trio with “at least half a dozen teams.” A sign-and-trade option involving Crowder and Hayward is on the table between Utah and Boston. However, it’s unknown as to whether Smart or Bradley will be included in that possible trade.
Ian Begley of ESPN New York reports that one of the teams Boston reached out to was the Knicks. It was about Smart, and although the team’s interest level is unknown, we’ll tell you why New York should be all about getting Marcus Smart.
Age and Contract
Marcus Smart has played so many NBA games between regular season and the playoffs that it feels like he’s been around a lot longer than three seasons. That’s not the case, though as Smart is just 23-years-old and still capable of getting better.
Marc Berman of The New York Post reported that the Knicks are interested in a youth movement right now and Steve Mills is “all in” on the idea. In the article, Berman even suggests the Knicks are tanking for the No. 1 overall pick in 2018.
His $4.5 million salary for next season is reasonable, and most importantly it’s expiring. The veteran is essentially on a tryout for the Knicks. If you like him, keep him. If you don’t, well dump him.
Get Him On The Cheap
Boston needs to make moves, and the entire NBA world knows it. The Knicks would have leverage over Danny Ainge and his staff.
They could probably pick up Smart for someone expendable like Kyle O’Quinn. The Knicks were actively shopping him at the deadline so it makes sense that he would be the guy to go. The emergence of rookie Willy Hernangomez pushed O’Quinn aside.
The salaries of O’Quinn and Smart match up (thanks, trade machine!) and Courtney Lee (also on the trade block) makes far too much money for a straight up deal to work.
Defense, Defense, Defense
Marcus Smart is one of the most versatile defenders in the Association. The phrase, “he can guard multiple positions” is often overstated in today’s NBA, but in Smart’s case, it’s a pure fact.
He might be a point guard but the dude is built like a forward, and he guards like one too. Smart’s listed on basketball-reference at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and he uses all of that to guard every position on the court.
The Knicks were one of the worst defenses in the league last year. Fans are still haunted by images of Derrick Rose being torched by the likes of Seth Curry and other lesser lead guards. That won’t happen with this guy.
Knicks fans will remember him best as the guy who gives Porzingis fits in the post. That’s what Marcus Smart does. He bugs the hell out of the other team. Tell me that guy wouldn’t make a great Knick?
Mentor to Frank
Now Marcus Smart is not going to save the Knicks by any means, but he’s a nice solid role player who can help Frank Ntilikina along. Frank’s defense is one of his strong suits entering the league, and he can learn a lot about NBA competition going up against Smart in practice every day.
In three seasons, Smart has already played in 28 playoff games. There’s a lot to be learned from a guy who’s done that. Not only just by Frank, but Porzingis and Hernangomez can soak up that knowledge too.
Smart would be coming from a Celtics locker room that is generally considered to be one of the best in the league. Brad Stevens created a winning atmosphere in Boston where everybody got along. That must be nice, huh?
Smart could help with the toxic culture that Phil Jackson created during his time in New York. The young guys like Porzingis, Hernangomez, and Baker only know dysfunction. A veteran with a winning pedigree would be right to show them something different.