Yes, I was one of those that went to sleep early last night and woke up to the Marcus Smart news (thank goodness for a great blog staff).
My heart was not prepared for this, even though I just asked the question Should the Celtics look to trade Marcus Smart instead of Malcolm Brogdon? a couple of days ago. My head can at least see the logic to the deal. And that’s really what this boils down to, right? The head vs. the heart.
I can’t remember the exact quote, but I vaguely remember that Danny Ainge told Marcus that it was his job to find someone better than him and it was Smart’s job to make that as difficult as possible. Well, Brad Stevens did what Danny Ainge could never bring himself to do. Only time will tell if it was the right call or not.
There will be a rush to judge this a “good” trade or a “bad” trade and that’s all well and good for fans and media to debate. But the same qualities that made Smart difficult to evaluate (intangibles, heart, hustle, leadership) make this a really hard trade to evaluate.
You also have to weigh the injury risks and contracts and the future CBA rules and any follow-on moves as well. I don’t for one second think that Stevens is done dealing. Malcolm Brogdon could still be moved. Grant Williams could be back or he could be a sign-and-trade candidate. The Celtics still have all their future picks plus two new first rounders. More could be coming.
On paper, I get it. We may have seen the beginning of Marcus Smart’s decline. This may end up being a very Bill Belichick type of move where he moves a player a year early in order to maximize his value. We had a surplus of guards and we upgraded our big position. We even added two first round picks. That sure seems like good (maybe great) value for the Celtics.
In my heart I’m dying. Trading away the heart and soul of this team could prove to be a disaster. The only parallel I can come up with is when Danny traded Kendrick Perkins and the team seemed to fall apart. On paper Jeff Green seemed like an upgrade, but on the court the team missed his presence. Now someone needs to step up and fill that void. Maybe this will force Tatum and Brown to be more deliberate in their leadership. We’ll see.
I wanted Marcus Smart to retire a Celtic. I will now immediately cheer for him forever wherever he goes. The Grit-n-Grind Memphis fans are going to love him. I still love and trust him. But the reason why we had to “trust” him was because he was always up and down. Feast or famine. You lived with the lows because he would always offset them with highs. Perhaps that played into why the Celtics as a team were so inconsistent last season. I don’t know how removing him changes that though. It could be for the better because it evens things our. Or it could be a disaster because every team has struggles and sometimes you need a spark to lead you out of them.
As of now, we’re counting on Malcolm Brogdon, Kristaps Porzingis, Robert Williams, and Al Horford to stay relatively healthy. That’s a huge risk.
Of course, it isn’t hard to close your eyes and imagine Porzingis unlocking the offense in new ways and providing another rim protector in the paint.
I’m going to keep going back and forth like this for the rest of the day if not the rest of the summer. There’s a lot of time to digest it, but right now it feels very raw. Ultimately we’ll know if this was a “good’ trade or a “bad” trade when we see how the next few seasons play out. Right now I’m just bracing for whatever comes next.