We've heard plenty about potential trade targets for the Boston Celtics, and Atlanta Hawks teammates John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic reportedly are among them.
But the Celtics would have to give up assets to acquire assets, and the Hawks reportedly have their eye on Boston's longest-tenured player.
Atlanta has "expressed interest" in Celtics guard Marcus Smart, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Monday. Charania's colleague, Jared Weiss, added that Smart likely would be discussed in a deal that sent Collins and Bogdanovic to Boston.
Smart, who recently returned from a calf injury that forced him to miss 18 games, is a vital member of the Celtics' core. While his offensive numbers aren't stellar (12.6 points per game on 40.1% shooting and 33.3% from 3-point range), he's an excellent defender and strong playmaker who in many ways is Boston's emotional leader.
Those qualities also make Smart a valuable trade asset, especially for the Hawks, who could use a plus defender/playmaker to pair with shoot-first point guard Trae Young. But the Celtics may be hesitant to part with Smart as they seek more energy and ball movement amid their current rough patch.
According to Weiss, Boston and Atlanta may have a tough time finding common ground in a trade for Collins if Smart isn't involved.
"Their young players aside from Payton Pritchard and Robert Williams currently hold minimal trade value and the front office still values those players as potential key rotation pieces in the near future," Weiss wrote Monday, reporting that there's a "significant gulf" between what the Hawks think Collins is worth and what teams are willing to give up for him.
Case in point: Atlanta's "initial response" to the Celtics' interest in Collins was to seek All-Star Jaylen Brown as part of a larger deal, Weiss reports.
Collins is a talented young player averaging 18.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game at age 23, but he's also expected to demand a maximum contract this offseason after reportedly turning down Atlanta's four-year, $90 million contract extension offer prior to the season.
Would the Celtics be willing to part with Smart if it landed them Collins and Bogdanovic, who averaged 15.1 points per game and 2.7 made 3-pointers per game for the Sacramento Kings last season? We'll find out between now and Thursday's NBA trade deadline.