According to Chris Forsberg of NBCS Boston, the Sacramento Kings asked for Marcus Smart as part of the package for veteran wing Harrison Barnes in recent negotiations. Clearly, those initial overtures were rejected, although there is still time left for the two teams to re-engage and hammer out an agreement, especially if the Celtics miss out on Aaron Gordon.
Sacramento being interested in a player of Smart’s caliber should come as no surprise, especially when considering the recent reports that Monte McNair has been unenthused by Boston’s reported offers of young players and first round picks. For the Kings, Smart would represent the exact kind of bull-headed, refuse-to-die defender that they have been missing since the days of Ron Artest, and he could also step in as an immediate replacement stopper on the wing, although he’s more of a 1-2-3, as opposed to Barnes’ 3-4 role.
Some may view such a maneuver as a win-now move, rather than a reset around De’Aaron Fox, but Smart is also nearly two years younger than Barnes, having recently turned 27, slightly younger than potential core piece Richaun Holmes. He’s currently locked up through the 2021-2022 season, due to make a hair over $14 million next year, and his difference in salary from Barnes would grant the Kings plenty of room to re-sign their starting center this offseason.
Of course, there is a concern that Smart could walk after next season, as he’s scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, but the Kings could offer him an extension this summer, and they would also inherit his full bird rights, allowing them to go over the salary cap to retain his services in the future. And even if Sacramento lost Smart to another team, a year-and-a-half of his culture-setting ways could do quite a bit for a team lacking in winning habits.
Boston’s disinterest in moving Smart is understandable, but General Manager Danny Ainge has to be feeling the pressure to make a move at the deadline, as the Celtics have been one of the most disappointing teams in the league this season. He has the power to acquire nearly any player in the league with his massive traded player exception from the Gordon Hayward trade, which allows the Celtics to take in a huge amount of salary without sending any money back to another team, but the Kings and Celtics could potentially work around that concept.
Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report recently shared that the Celtics are considered the top suitor for Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica, and he also mentioned that Boston would consider adding Bjelica to a Barnes deal, or they may trade for him separately. If that is, in fact, the case, and if Smart is truly on the block, the two teams could come to an agreement without involving Boston’s coveted TPE. Tristan Thompson has somewhat worn out his welcome with the Celtics, and a basic package of Harrison Barnes and Nemanja Bjelica for Marcus Smart and Tristan Thompson works perfectly salary-wise, while the two teams would still likely need to quibble about any other sort of compensation going either way. Danny Ainge could reset his roster and save his TPE for the offseason, while the Kings could add a hopeful core piece in Marcus Smart.
The two organizations are running a bit short on time to work out a deal, as the NBA trade deadline expires on Thursday afternoon at noon Pacific Time.