According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the team is "chasing that extra first-round pick in Marcus Smart trade talks in hopes of flipping it in a deal for either Lou Williams or Tyreke Evans, league sources say."
It would appear that Smart is firmly on the trade block. Over the weekend, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on the Woj Pod (h/t Erik Garcia Gundersen of USA Today) that Boston would consider moving Smart in a trade if it included a first-round pick.
Wojnarowski also noted that Boston didn't want to take a lot of money back in any deal and that Smart's impending restricted free agency was a factor in the team's reported willingness to move him since the Celtics may not be inclined to match the offer sheets he receives over the summer.
Yesterday, meanwhile, Stein reported that the Denver Nuggets had "explored Marcus Smart trade scenarios with Boston" and that "Emmanuel Mudiay has been made available, sources say, but the Celts covet a first-round pick for Smart."
As for the Celtics trying to flip a first-rounder they hypothetically receive in a Smart deal for Williams or Evans, Zach Lowe of ESPN broke down some of the moving parts in that scenario:
"Boston may want that extra pick to swap for someone like Evans or Williams. That would be paying very high—probably too high for Boston's taste—but trading a pick you get as part of a multistep contingency is not quite the same as trading from your preexisting stash. If not for Step 2—acquiring Evans, Williams, whoever—there is no Step 1. This kind of setup lends itself to three-team deals, too."
"It’s not like they're trying to give him away," a general manager told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald regarding Smart. "They want something back. Smart still has a lot of value for that team."
Smart's value lies on the defensive end, where he's a physical stopper, while Williams and Evans would offer more offensively. Smart is averaging 10.1 points per game while shooting just 35.7 percent from the field and 29.9 percent from three. Contrast that to Williams (23.3 PPG, 43.9 percent from the field, 38 percent from three) and Evans (19.5 PPG, 45.8 percent from the field, 39.2 percent from three).
While the Celtics are holding opponents to just 98.4 points per game, second in the NBA, they are scoring just 103.2 points per contest, 24th in the league. Part of that comes down to so much of the offense relying on Kyrie Irving down the stretch. While Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are all solid contributors, Irving creates his own shot and offense far more consistently than any other Celtic.
Adding a player like Williams or Evans off the bench, then, to add an offensive spark would be a logical move for the Celtics if they go that route. Either player could lead the offense while Irving took a breather on the bench, giving the Celtics more scoring balance. Losing Smart's defense would hurt, but the veteran guard potentially will be leaving over the summer anyway.