BOSTON – Danny Ainge is always on the prowl for more talent, something you would expect when you have a good team but your goal is to be great.
But J.R. Smith?
While anything is possible, the idea of Smith suiting up for Brad Stevens and the Green Team is a leap – we’re talking a Bob Beamon-like jump.
For starters, the Celtics would have to lay out a clear and well-defined role for Smith, which is easier said than done. Smith made significant strides this past season as a defender in Cleveland’s run towards an NBA title, the kind of growth that helps balance out those nights when his shot isn’t falling.
The New York Daily News' Frank Isola reported the Celtics are among the teams interested in the free agent guard.
Let’s assume the Celtics can do that which is once again, a bit of a stretch.
They must then convince him that whatever role they have for him will be great enough to make him to leave Cleveland FOR LESS MONEY!!
Boston could potentially sign him to a deal reportedly starting at about $9 million, but that’s just not right. The Celtics are over the salary cap and won’t be able to come anywhere close to the $10-11 million Smith could receive from the Cavs.
So let’s recap: Leave a team behind that you know well, won a title with, for significantly less money and a less prominent role?
Doesn’t make sense to me, either.
And then there’s the roster logistics that have to take place.
Boston has 16 players with guaranteed contracts which means they have to get rid of at least one player either by trade or by waiving them.
And of the players Boston is willing to part ways with, let’s just say teams aren’t beating down their doors to make deals for them.
So in order to add Smith, Boston will have to rid itself of at least two players with guaranteed deals because the likelihood of pulling off a trade – at this point – is highly unlikely.
And maybe the most important issue is whether Smith would be a good fit culture-wise with this team.
When you look at the players Boston has added under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens, their character has not been an issue or concern.
It would be with Smith who if you recall, cold-cocked Jae Crowder a couple years ago in the playoffs that put Crowder out for the rest of the game and led to a hyperextended knee injury that delayed Crowder’s offseason workout regimen.
There’s no doubt that if this were a decision that was purely based on talent, the Celtics would not hesitate to try and land a player like Smith.
But as we’ve seen with the Celtics, their ascension from a lottery team in 2014 to one that has been to the postseason each of the past two seasons has been a steady climb.
The question that the Celtics have to ask themselves is whether adding Smith moves them any further up the Eastern Conference standings, and whether such improvement is worth whatever potential issues/baggage Smith would bring with him to Boston.
Because as much as Ainge loves adding great talent, he’s just as consumed with bringing in the right fit which is why any talk of adding Smith to the roster is far from a no-brainer.