Marcus Smart-CJ McCollum Swap launched by NBA Insider
You could argue that no two teams are linked as potential business partners as much as the Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers have been in recent weeks. Whether it’s rumors that Damian Lillard could potentially make his way out of Oregon, or the Blazers hanging from teammate CJ McCollum as commercial ammo to better support Lillard, the Celtics continue to be touted as ideal catalysts to help Portland reshape their roster.
As for making Lillard a run, one could argue that no other NBA team would be able to outdo a Celtics offering built around All-Star Jaylen Brown, 24. However, as intriguing as it sounds on paper for the Blazers to trade Lillard for an aspiring star nearly seven years of his youth, chances are they’d rather keep their point guard if possible – and rightly so.
If that turns out to be the case, their best chance to right the ship as far as Lillard is concerned is to reconfigure their roster around him to look more like a championship contender. Yahoo Sports’ Chris Mannix thinks it could start with a move for Celtics veteran and defensive ace Marcus Smart.
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Mannix: Smart could “take a lot of pressure off” Lillard
Mannix recently joined Bill Simmons on The Ringer’s Bill Simmons podcast where he highlighted Smart as a logical addition to Lillard in the Blazers backcourt and a possible trade chip to bring McCollum to Boston.
“If Portland keeps Lillard, that’s why [CJ] McCollum is intriguing for Boston because Smart would likely complement Lillard differently at least from McCollum, ”Mannix said. “The biggest problem in Portland is that there is no defensive backstop there. No one can keep the wings like Smart. So you put Smart next to Lillard, you take a lot of pressure off her in that direction. There is a very good market for Marcus Smart.
This is not the first time that a McCollum-Smart exchange has been offered, as Athletic’s Jason Quick shared a thought process similar to Mannix regarding a possible deal this summer.
“For the first time, I think the likelihood of McCollum being traded this summer is likely, if not certain,” Quick wrote. “I’ve also heard that Boston might be interested in a player like McCollum, and I always thought Marcus Smart and his defense would be a good duo in Portland (obviously it would take more to match the salaries, but Smart would be a good start). “
Evaluate the business value of Smart
Funny how things go. Just a month ago, a league source informed Brian Robb of Mass Live that “getting a late first-round pick for Smart would be a challenge unless Boston takes over an unattractive contract as part of the deal.”
Suddenly, Smart is gearing up to become the best commercial chip in the C, potentially serving as a key cog in a deal to net McCollum a 23.1 points per game. And on the face of it, Portland wouldn’t be the only potential buyer if Boston bought their oldest player. During the same podcast, Bill Simmons noted that he thinks that “the contending teams really appreciate” Smart and that the current value of the keeper could likely make the Celtics a choice between No.7 overall and No.9. overall in this year’s draft – certainly a far cry from his previously perceived “late first-round pick” value.