I have a little bit of a "hot" take... I think BOS should explore trading Marcus Smart.

I think the Celtics are and should be committed to keeping Kemba / Brown / Hayward / Tatum in tact. I think the 4 of them function beautifully together. I think a narrative got created last year that Brown/Hayward/Tatum couldn't coexist but a lot has changed:

1) Hayward in year 2 back from injury is just quite simply a better player. Take fit out of it - Hayward was just flat out not a good player his first year back. He didn't have the same burst and he was tentative/unsure of his role. It's normal for players coming back from major injury to take until year 2 to be all the way back and that's played out with Hayward. Any lineup with him will work better now that he's back to being a good player. And now that the "idea" of what role Hayward can play matches his physical ability to play said role, of course it goes smoother.

2) Kemba is more willing to take a back seat to others than Kyrie. This has been huge. Kemba doesn't only accept that he needs the help of others to win, he actually EMBRACES it. He seems to genuinely enjoy being a part of the development of Brown/Tatum and wants them to grow into stars. His whole mindset is different. Kyrie came from winning as a second option and wanting to grow beyond that. Kemba came from never being able to win as a lone wolf and looking to play alongside better players. He's not the individual talent that Kyrie is, but he more than makes up for that by being willing to let others thrive and exhibiting true, genuine leadership. Kyrie was fine playing alongside Lebron and will be fine with Durant, but when you're relying on development from Brown/Tatum Kemba is simply a much better fit.

3) Tatum has made huge strides in year 3. His shot selection has improved greatly. Over his first two years 29.6% of his shots were 3s, 40.8% were from within 10 feet and 29.6% of his shots were between 10 feet and the 3 point line. This year, 37.7% of his shots are 3s, 41.9% are within 10 feet and 20.4% are from 10 feet out to the 3 point line. He's moved about a third of his mid range shots out to the 3 point line or into the paint. His FT attempts ar euphorias per game as well. Those don't show up as shot attempts so they won't be reflected in those percentages but it also highlights how he's moving from the mid range to the paint/3 more. He's not taking as many floaters/runners or mid range turnarounds. He's not running ISO as much. All of this has made him easier to play with on the offensive end. It's improved not only his game, but better allowed others to still eat as he progressed. And then he's made massive strides on the other end of the court. He's become an elite defender. He's also upped his defensive rebounding. That's made him playing PF much more viable. All together, his offensive and defensive improvement have massively aided their ability to go with a "4 out" perimeter oriented lineup.

4) Jaylen Brown made huge strides. He was flat out painful to watch at times last year. Going from the second perimeter scorer that he was in that playoff run 2 years ago to the 4th perimeter scorer last year was tough on him. It created matchups that seemed favorable on paper for him so he would try to capitalize but he didn't have the handles/finishing ability to do it like he thought he could. Back in that playoff run they were using more off ball action to look for him to get shots. Last year they had better players to create shots for so they didn't do it as much. This year, he improved his handles a ton to better work his game around others. Because he's still the 4th best perimeter player, he gets those favorable matchups. Now, he's got the handles to capitalize. He still doesn't create for others but he's able to be a high level scorer just by bodying up weaker defenders he gets afforded with he opportunity to face because the top guys are on Tatum/Kemba/Hayward.

Last year the Kyrie/Brown/Hayward/Tatum grouping didn't work. But all of those changes have made it so that the Kemba/Brown/Hayward/Tatum grouping DOES work. It's a high level unit on both ends of the court.

Brown signed his extension last year. Tatum will sign his this offseason. Kemba is signed for 3 more seasons after this one (includes a player option that you can't imagine him turning down). Hayward is the short term guy with an expiring deal after he picks up the player option this year.

If I'm Boston, my plan would be to try and line Hayward up with Kemba. So when he hits FA next year I'd, offer him as big a 2 year deal as it takes to get him to take 2 years. Or, as an alternative, you work out a deal where he opts out this year and re-signs a 3 year deal. If Hayward opted out and signed a 3 year, $90.72M deal his 2020 salary would go down from $34.2M to $28M. So Boston saved $6.2M on their luxury tax number this year and Hayward gets the same money as if he players out this offseason and then signed a 2 year, $56.5M deal next year. I think he'd definitely consider that. And for BOS, the savings this year might be the difference between going into the tax now vs next year. If it does make the difference, it's worth paying him more on that deal to avoid repeater penalties.

So that laves with a 3 year window for Kemba/Brown/Hayward/Tatum. And then, after that 3 year window is up, Brown under his current deal and Tatum would be as well under his inevitable rookie extension. Beyond them, Romeo Langford and Grant Williams would be restricted free agents and any rookies they draft from this year on will be under their rookie deals.

At that point, Boston would have major financial flexibility to pursue a long term fit with Brown/Tatum. The UFA class includes Jokic, Embiid, Porzingis, Durant, Jimmy Butler, Harden, Westbrook, D'Angelo Russell, Myles Turner, Nikola Vucevic, Brogden, Love, Middleton (PO), Capela. Those guys will be at different points in their careers but with tons of financial flexibility Boston would be in position to either land a star or make two good signings to add to the core (i.e. one of Turner/Capela) and then another guy. Can't realistically expect to pry a guy like Morant or Zion away in RFA but other draftees from this year like Tyler Herro, Jaxson Hayes, Brandon Clarke, Matisse Thybulle have all played well and maybe you can make an offer sheet a team won't match depending on how far they've developed.

And it's not like I'm suggesting tank in the meantime. I'm saying extend the core of a team that looks poised to compete already, just maneuver it right so you can smoothly transition to another era of talent around Brown/Tatum.

That brings me back to my original point of trading Marcus Smart. He's an amazing glue guy, I love what he brings. It would really suck to see him moved. But I compare it to the Charles Oakley trade the Bulls made to a degree. They had Horace Grant at PF and needed a C. So they made the tough call to move a beloved toughness guy to balance the roster. I think moving Smart could be similar...

1) If Boston committees to a core of Kemba/Brown/Hayward/Tatum that's a ton of minutes committed. Let's say you manage workload and only play them 30 minutes per game in the regular season. There are 192 minutes to be split between the PG/SG/SF/PF positions and at 30 minutes per game they'd be taking 120 of them. In the playoffs, you're obviously going to want to extend the minutes of those guys as they're great players. If you play Kemba/Hayward 34 minutes each and Brown/Tatum 36, now you've filled up 140 of 192 minutes. So a substantial chunk. There's obviously plenty of time for Smart to make an impact there, but is that the position you really need to be allocating big money too?

2) Smart's contract has 2 years left after this one. That means Boston will have to make a choice on re-signing him. If they do, it will be a contract that takes away a chunk of the financial flexibility I talked about above for after Hayward/Walker's prime years are up. Is Smart worth taking that away? I'd argue no.

3) With above, I consider him someone who I reluctantly wouldn't bring back past his current deal. That means I'd rather get something for him. And trading him now with 2 years left vs next year as an expiring I think makes a big difference.

4) The overall weakness of this draft class I think will help elevate a Marcus Smart return. Just google "Marcus Smart Warriors" and you see people discussing on team blogs if the Warriors should give up a top 5 pick for Marcus Smart. If the Wolves pick lands at #3 and they keep it, I think a strong argument can be made that Smart is a better piece to add to KAT/Russell than anyone in this class.The Wizards want to compete and keep Beal happy so would Smart packaged with one of Boston's later 1sts get you their lottery pick? Because this class is perceived as so weak, you could maybe get a higher pick for Smart than usual. If there's a guy Boston likes I think they could realistically land him with Smart and some other picks/young players.

I just think the value lines up well to move Smart now. I think you could either get the answer to the center rotation issue now, or you could get a pick that fits into the long term core better contract wise while still being a good role player for you now.

Is Smart/Theis/#17 pick a competitive offer for Rudy Gobert? Could that package get Myles Turner? The Hawks have talked about moving John Collins - would that work? How about Lauri Markannen in CHI? Smart was one of the guys who seemed to have a good relationship with Kyrie so what about Jarret Allen in BRK?

Ultimately, I think the time could be right for Boston to consider it.