NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Marcus Smart, Chris Paul, More

NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Marcus Smart, Chris Paul, More

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The Boston Celtics reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in three years this past season. With a young core and future assets, they figured to be a major player this offseason.

    Instead, the Celtics came up mostly empty in pursuit of a major acquisition.

    General manager Danny Ainge was unable to leverage the team’s three first-round picks to move up the draft board or make a play for a star. Gordon Hayward also declined his player option and signed with the Charlotte Hornets, depriving Boston of a playmaking wing capable of handling the ball and spacing the floor.

    However, the team’s fruitless efforts weren’t for lack of trying. The Celtics were willing to dangle one of their top defenders and a fan favorite in trade talks, and they also managed to create an enormous trade exception out of Hayward’s departure.

    Here are some of the latest trade rumors from around the NBA.

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Marcus Smart has become one of the most beloved players in Boston for his tireless effort and intensity.

    The Celtics made him the sixth overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, and he has made himself a vital part of the roster. He gives Boston another playmaker in the backcourt, one capable of making plays for his teammates and getting hot from beyond the arc.

    But the 26-year-old is truly indispensable on the defensive end of the floor. He has been named first-team All-Defense in back-to-back seasons, guarding just about every position on the floor and harassing opponents on the ball. The former Hustle Award winner scraps for every loose ball and is never afraid to take on challenging defensive assignments.

    Smart is one of the most ideal fits for Brad Stevens’ defensive schemes. But despite his real and symbolic value to the franchise, he is not untouchable in trade talks.

    Matt Moore of The Action Network previously reported the Celtics and Golden State Warriors had “exploratory talks” on a deal that would send Smart to the Dubs in exchange for the No. 2 pick in October.

    While nothing came of those talks, David Aldridge of The Athletic reported the Oklahoma State product is “not ungettable,” suggesting he could be had for the right price. 

    This is by no means an indication the Celtics are making Smart readily available. They would almost certainly only offer him in a deal for a current or potential future star, which could explain why Ainge floated the idea of swapping him for the right to fill a need and select James Wiseman with the No. 2 pick. 

    Then again, the Celtics also have a fairly lucrative trade exception to play around with, and they might choose to pair that with Smart in an effort to nab a marquee player.

    For now, though, Boston will try its luck again with most of the same roster still intact. It figures to benefit from the addition of Tristan Thompson and Aaron Nesmith (via the draft), and a healthier Kemba Walker would help matters quite a bit.

    Still, it’s worth keeping an eye on Smart especially considering he has just two years remaining on his contract.

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The New York Knicks also came up mostly empty this offseason, though fans have become pretty well accustomed to their failure to land a star for some time now.

    New president of basketball operations Leon Rose and general manager Scott Perry had hoped to land a star point guard. But when the dust settled, they ended up with Austin Rivers.

    The 28-year-old is a productive and capable NBA player, but he is hardly the same caliber as, say, Chris Paul. Marc Berman of the New York Post reported Rose hoped to lure CP3, his former client, to the Big Apple almost as soon as he was appointed to his position.

    Of course, the “Point God” had other ideas.

    Berman reported Paul was intent on staying close to his son in Los Angeles and said in November the Clippers were his “first choice.” As for the Knicks? Well, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of interest there.

    Paul ended up going to the Phoenix Suns, a team with an established young star in Devin Booker and another budding star in Deandre Ayton. The Suns also filled out the roster by signing veteran wing Jae Crowder and shooters like Langston Galloway and E’Twaun Moore while also bringing back Dario Saric and Jevon Carter.

    Phoenix had assets to offer the Oklahoma City Thunder and a strong foundation for Paul to come into and help spur winning. The Knicks essentially have neither of those things.

    New York seemed mostly unwilling to part with either Mitchell Robinson or RJ Barrett in addition to the No. 8 draft pick. Plus, it would have to absorb most of Paul’s salary, whereas the Suns sent fairly costly salaries in Kelly Oubre and Ricky Rubio back to OKC. This allowed Phoenix to preserve cap space and further bolster the roster.

    The Knicks have had a grandiose idea for what the offseason would entail in each of the last two years. But until they can develop players and start to win, it’s unlikely they can convince veteran stars like Paul to come to town.

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Although Hayward declined his player option and entered the free-agent market, the Charlotte Hornets’ subsequent decision to sign him to a four-year, $120 million deal opened the door for a sign-and-trade.

    Charlotte needed to create cap for Hayward and ultimately will do so by stretching and waiving Nicolas Batum. However, the sign-and-trade with Boston officially gives the Celtics the largest trade exception in league history ($28.5 million), per ESPN.

    There are some stipulations as to how the Celtics can use the exception (TPE). Because they are within $21.5 million of the hard cap, they may only add a player or players whose salaries will keep them under that hard cap. The team has up to a year to use the TPE.

    So, how will Ainge and the Celtics proceed? Might they engage in talks to land another star before the season or perhaps at the trade deadline? Maybe Boston will wait until next offseason, when it has the full TPE available.

    One thing is for sure: Ainge is very unpredictable. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Celtics pull off some kind of blockbuster in which the TPE features quite prominently.

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