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Celtics' Danny Ainge Says Rumors of Shopping Marcus Smart 'Made Up Stuff'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2021

Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart plays against the Orlando Magic during the first half on an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 21, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge shot down rumors Friday that he was shopping guard Marcus Smart ahead of the NBA trade deadline.

During an appearance on Toucher and Rich (h/t Chris Grenham of Forbes), Ainge said: "Yeah, that's all made up stuff."

While the Celtics did not move Smart prior to Thursday's deadline, they did acquire wing Evan Fournier from the Orlando Magic for guard Jeff Teague and two second-round picks, and they also sent forward Daniel Theis to the Chicago Bulls as part of a three-team deal that landed them big men Moritz Wagner and Luke Kornet.

The 27-year-old Smart is in the midst of his seventh NBA season, all of which have been spent with the Celtics.

Smart, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft out of Oklahoma State, has been a key contributor in Boston throughout his career, especially on the defensive end.

Injuries have limited him to just 25 games this season, but he has been productive when healthy, averaging 12.7 points, a career-high 5.4 assists, as well as 2.8 rebounds, 1.8 three-pointers made and 1.5 steals.

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Smart is shooting just 39.0 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from beyond the arc, but that isn't uncommon, as he shoots just 37.4 percent from the floor and 31.9 percent from long range for his career.

While he has never been particularly efficient offensively, Smart is the Celtics' best perimeter defender, and he was rewarded with a four-year, $52 million deal in 2018.

Had the Celtics traded Smart, the acquiring team would have been taking on his salary for the remainder of this season and all of next season.

Instead, the Celtics decided to keep him and continue deploying him as part of a guard rotation that also includes Kemba Walker and Payton Pritchard. Jaylen Brown and Fournier, who are swingmen, will figure into the rotation as well.

Had Boston decided to trade Smart, it may have been in an effort to target a quality big since the Celtics are lacking in that area.

Theis was their leading big in terms of minutes with 24.5 per game before getting traded. He is followed by Tristan Thompson, who has been dealing with injuries all season, and then Robert Williams.

Williams figures to see more minutes following the departure of Theis, plus the newly acquired Wagner and Kornet could play a role as well.

If the 21-23 Celtics, who are eighth in the Eastern Conference, are going to make the playoffs this season, Smart may have a big hand in getting them there.

  

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