Tomase: If these 3 contenders haven't reached out to Marcus Smart, they're idiots

John Tomase
July 08, 2018 - 11:32 pm

USA Today Sports

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It's entirely possible we're overrating Marcus Smart. We've been known to do that around here. I once declared I wouldn't trade Jae Crowder straight up for Kevin Love, for instance, so . . . yeah.

That said, I find it surprising that the rugged guard has drawn zero interest around the league, especially since he should appeal to a very specific kind of team -- any group that thinks it can challenge the Warriors.

The Celtics are one such team, and they've limited Golden State's high-octane offense as well as anyone over the last three years, with Smart in the middle of all of it.

The Celtics might be the only team in the league confident enough to attack Golden State defensively, because there's no point in trying to outscore Steph Curry and company. The Celtics were one of five teams to hold Golden State under 90 points last season, just as they were one of four teams to turn the trick in 2017.

That's no accident. Smart is a beast on the perimeter and a big reason why Splash Brother Klay Thompson has shot just .299 on 3-pointers against the Celtics, by far his worst mark against any team, and more than 100 points below his lifetime mark of .422.

With that in mind, here are three teams that should be placing a call to Smart.

1. Houston Rockets

Houston is in tax hell at the moment and still needs to re-sign restricted free agent center Clint Capela. But the Rockets are reportedly interested in Carmelo Anthony, which is senseless and calls into question everything we think we know about shrewd general manager Daryl Morey.

The Rockets don't need a one-dimensional gunner like Anthony. They need to replace the defensive presence of swingman Trevor Ariza, who bolted for Phoenix. Smart may lack the 6-foot-8 Ariza's size, but he's every bit as tenacious and would give the Rockets a chance of impeding Golden State's backcourt.

They didn't have much luck with said backcourt in the conference finals, allowing Thompson to make nearly half his 3's in the seven-game series (27-for-55, .491) and Curry to pump in 25 a night. Smart can address that. Carmelo cannot.

2. Philadelphia 76ers

Unlike the Rockets, the Sixers have money, even after re-signing guard J.J. Redick. While Smart may not be a perfect fit for a roster that already includes one point guard who can't shoot in Ben Simmons, signing him would weaken Philly's primary competitors in the East while making the Sixers much more formidable defensively.

The Sixers understandably appear focused on disgruntled All-Star Kawhi Leonard, but if they can't acquire him, Smart wouldn't be a bad fallback. We're only two months removed from Smart racing downcourt to secure the clinching steal that knocked Philly out of the playoffs.

3. Los Angeles Lakers

No one knows what Smart can do more than LeBron James. Though James got the better of their matchups because of an overwhelming size advantage, Smart still made him work. What better teammate to set an example of tenacity and relentlessness as James tries to build something from the ground up in L.A.?

Smart is the kind of player who can help create a culture, and he's exactly the kind of teammate James will need if he expects to unseat the Warriors.

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