The NBA’s Eastern Conference is currently buoyed by new blood from the Midwest, with the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers both ascending to top-dog status in 2021-22. Of course, the roles they are now occupying have been reserved for teams like the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors, but 2020-21 was a turning-point season for the conference where the old guard seemingly stepped aside. Boston’s inability to compete at the highest level has put names like Al Horford, Marcus Smart, and even Jaylen Brown onto the trade block.
Brown isn’t going anywhere, and it may be hard to find a new home for Al Horford given his bloated salary-cap figure. Brad Stevens may need to find a team that has the ability to absorb him and subsequently release him, and cap space isn’t exactly plentiful in the association.
Marcus Smart, however, is someone that just about any team can make room for, assuming his long-term commitment doesn’t scare them off. A deal for the perennial DPOY candidate seems more plausible now than ever, and the hope is that a star-level player could be had in return.
That just may be the case.
MassLive’s Brian Robb recently answered a reader’s question on his Boston Celtics Mailbag column about swapping Marcus Smart for John Collins, and this was his response:
"Absolutely. Smart has been great since his return but Collins is a dream complement to Tatum and Brown at power forward from an offensive standpoint. He’s a shooter and lob threat that you can’t help off of."
This swap has been discussed by Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz, and he called it a ‘panic trade’ on the Hawks’ end. Which it is.
Atlanta may just be panicking, though. They’ve been spending money in free agency and making win-now moves and their run at the top may have already concluded after one Eastern Conference finals run if nothing else is done.
Any Marcus Smart trade for the Hawks that involves John Collins would likely involve more assets coming Atlanta’s way, so maybe it’s worth panicking in the A if it means finally ending the volatile partnership between Collins and franchise point guard Trae Young.