The Celtics have won seven of their last ten games, they're finally healthy, for now, at least, and they're coming off a win where they led by 60 and registered their highest margin of victory in a home game in franchise history. Whether they're turning their season around remains to be seen, but for the moment, Boston's trending in the right direction.
Since returning to the lineup for Sunday's 116-87 win vs. the Wizards, Marcus Smart has distributed 13 assists in two games, earning a plus-minus rating of +36 in both contests. With him back, the Celtics have had their starting lineup of Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Robert Williams intact for 14 games, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive.
According to NBA.com, in 174 minutes together, that unit's producing 113.2 points per 100 possessions, has a 91.3 defensive rating, and a 21.9 net rating. Furthermore, Boston now has a 3.1 plus-minus rating for the season, which ranks eighth leaguewide and fourth in the Eastern Conference.
As well as their starting lineup's played when sharing the floor, that not being a regular occurrence and the Celtics' 9-17 record in games within five points or fewer in the final five minutes, has them in eighth in the East. As a result, it's a safe bet Boston gets under the luxury tax before the trade deadline ends on Feb. 10. Shedding Juancho Hernangomez's $7-million contract signaled that intention.
Given the challenges the Celtics would face trying to re-sign Dennis Schroder this summer, he's also likely to be a cap casualty. However, if they want to make a more significant trade to reshape their roster, they could part with Marcus Smart or Al Horford. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, the former's name is resurfacing in trade conversations.
It's a few weeks before the deadline, so it seems only fitting that Marcus Smart's name has once again percolated in trade talk. But it will take significant value in return, sources said, for Boston to ever part with Smart.
Fischer also reported that before Cam Reddish got traded to the Knicks, the Celtics and Hawks discussed a deal centered on Smart going to Atlanta in exchange for Kevin Huerter and Reddish, though it's unclear how far those talks went.
Fischer's sources indicate there have been more discussions about deals involving Horford than Smart this week. The former has $14.5 million of his $26.5-million salary guaranteed next season. As valuable as that may be to teams searching for cap relief, sources indicate to Fischer there appears to be a limited market for Horford.