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Celtics reportedly interested in Suns’ Jalen Smith

Aaron Nesmith and Dennis Schroder are reportedly available.

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NBA: Boston Celtics at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

As per Michael Scotto on the HoopsHype podcast, the Boston Celtics has reportedly made calls to the Phoenix Suns inquiring about Jalen Smith’s availability. This comes almost a month after Shams Charania from The Athletic reported that the James Jones had been receiving calls about the big man, despite turning down his rookie option.

According to Michael Scotto, Boston has also shown interest in Denver Nuggets forward Jeff Green and are shopping their own 2020 lottery pick Aaron Nesmith, as well as point guard Dennis Schroder. It’s worth noting either of them would meet the salary requirements for a trade with Jalen Smith. Additionally, if the Suns were to add Elfrid Payton and be willing to go over the Tax this year (which does not seem to be the case), both Schroder and Nesmith could be acquired. If they were to add Cam Payne, they would not cross the Tax line.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Nesmith, a former 14th overall pick from Vanderbilt in 2020, is a 6-5, 215lb forward and 22 years old. He played 46 games for Boston in his rookie year, including one start, averaging 4.7 points, 2.8 rebounds in 14.5 minutes while shooting 43.8 from the field and 37 from the three point line. However, this year his role has diminished, playing only 10.7 minutes per game and averaging 3.1 points and 1.7 rebounds, on an alarming 23.4% from three. He is still on his rookie scale contract, as Boston has picked up his option for the 22-23 season.

Schroder, on the other hand, has scored 15.9 points and dished out 4.6 assists on 31.6 minutes per game this season for the Celtics, after joining the team this year during what can only be described as a disastrous offseason for him. After turning down a huge contract extension offered the prior offseason by the Lakers, he accepted a 1-year/5.8 M offer from the Celtics.

Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Nesmith would fit a need for the Suns as a fourth wing on the roster, but he would be a project to develop and I don’t think the Suns are looking for that right now. It’s also worth noting, the Suns did pass him on draft night, given they had the 10th pick and chose Jalen Smith instead. As for Schroder, there’s debate if the Suns need help at the point guard position at all. After Payne’s productivity last year, it’s hard to see the Suns deciding to move from him. However, his current productivity has some fans concerned, and Payton has proved he is hard to trust, even if as a third string.

Although it’s interesting they could both fill a potential need, none of them seem to be players of interest - Nesmith due to productivity, Schroder due to culture fit. After a quick glance at the Boston roster, the only player that might be relevant to the Suns (other than Smart, Brown and Tatum, of course), would be Josh Richardson, who could provide some more productivity at the guard spot than what Shamet and Payne have so far this season.

However, given the latest productivity from Stix, some may even question if the Suns really do want to part ways with him. As of now, the only center under contract for next year is Dario Saric, given Frank Kaminsky, Bismack Biyombo and JaVale McGee are on one-year deals and Deandre Ayton will hit restricted free agency next summer.

Phoenix Suns v Toronto Raptors Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images

If that is the James Jones current wish, though, declining his rookie option may prove to be a mistake. Now, the Suns are the only team in the league who has a cap on what they can offer Smith. His salary for next season with the Suns cannot be larger than what his salary would be if they had not declined the option (4.7M). And this may also prove a limiting factor to teams that acquire him through a trade, as that limitation will also apply to them.

It will be interesting to see what the Suns do moving forward with some needs to fill. They currently have 6 centers on a 15 man roster, two of them injured and likely out for most (Frank) or all (Dario) season. If Smith keeps developing into a pick & pop big with some playmaking skill, he could be a good replacement for both Saric and Frank. However, that likely means getting rid of one or both of them and it seems unlikely that James Jones would trade or waive an injured player.

2021 NBA Playoffs - Phoenix Suns v LA Clippers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

All the while, the Suns wing depth could use improvement, as Nader is less than durable and Ish Wainright is on a two-way contract - not to mention Justin Jackson, who is on a 10 day contract. The right piece to play 10-15 minutes per game could improve our rotation, as Monty himself has said there are some minutes available there. OKC’s Kenrich Williams would be an interesting fit, as some have pointed out in the past.

Additionally, guard play has been below expected, with Shamet falling short of the expectations we all had, as well as low productivity from Payton and Payne. It’s not our most flagrant need, but it could certainly use improvement, either internal or via trade. I’d still want to keep Payne, as I believe he can still recover and contribute more significantly, but Elfrid has shown he is no insurance policy if Payne does not come around.

What do you think? What do you feel is the Suns most glaring need? And who would you be looking to trade/waive in order to fill that?

Poll

What trade would you do?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Jalen Smith for Dennis Schroder
    (188 votes)
  • 4%
    Jalen Smith for Aaron Nesmith
    (44 votes)
  • 75%
    Neither of these!
    (698 votes)
930 votes total Vote Now