Marcus Smart's future with the Boston Celtics remains very much up in the air.
The Celtics' longest-tenured player is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2021-22 season, and while there's a possibility Boston offers Smart a contract extension this summer, it appears a trade is on the table as well.
In fact, Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix reports it's "more likely" that new Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens will look to trade Smart this offseason than offer him an extension.
"Smart has become a fan favorite over seven years in Boston, but Brad Stevens has been frustrated by Smart’s unpredictable play in recent years, per sources," Mannix wrote Monday.
While Smart is a strong playmaker, an excellent defender and a team leader -- new Celtics head coach Ime Udoka recently called him a "foundational piece" -- the 27-year-old has been inconsistent offensively, shooting just 39.8% from the floor and 33.3% from 3-point range last season while committing 2.0 turnovers per game, his highest mark in three seasons.
The C's also reportedly acquired a pair of guards over the weekend in Kris Dunn and Josh Richardson, which could signal they're looking to make a backcourt change after trading Kemba Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
So, what could the Celtics receive on the trade market in return for Smart?
"Probably a first round pick and a rotational player," an Eastern Conference executive told Mannix, adding that Boston could land a "similar player who fits a positional need."
Mannix reports the C's sought multiple first-round picks for Smart last season, so they'd have to lower their asking price to deal the veteran guard. If they can't find a feasible return for Smart -- who's set to make $13.8 million next season -- then it's very possible he remains in Boston, especially if Udoka thinks highly of the gritty guard.
But if Stevens and the Celtics don't want to sign Smart long-term, then the time to trade him is now before he walks as an unrestricted free agent next summer.