Celtics eyeing Suns' Jalen Smith heading into Feb. 10 trade deadline?

Duane Rankin
Arizona Republic
Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams talks with forward Jalen Smith (10) in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022.

TORONTO — The Boston Celtics appear to have an interest in the man who scored a career-high 19 points on them New Year's Eve.

The Suns' Jalen Smith.

The 10th overall pick in the 2020 draft out of Maryland shot 7-of-9 from the field and grabbed seven rebounds in Phoenix's 123-108 loss at TD Garden.

Two weeks later, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype wrote: "I’ve also heard former lottery pick Aaron Nesmith and guard Dennis Schroder are also available in Boston. They’ve made several calls doing due diligence, including to Phoenix regarding Jalen Smith’s availability."

The 6-10, 215-pound Smith has been involved in trade rumors going as far back last summer after his rookie season.

Phoenix Suns forward Jalen Smith fouls Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) as he shoots during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, in Boston.

The Suns not picking up his third-year option took that chatter to another level.

What's changed since then is Smith got an opportunity to start and play major minutes when Deandre Ayton, Jae Crowder and JaVale McGee recently went into COVID health and safety protocols.

Ayton and Crowder missed five games in protocols while McGee was out three.

They all sat another game against the Clippers as part of their reconditioning to ramp back up into game shape. 

With Ayton, Crowder and McGee missing multiple games, Smith averaged 15.8 points and 10.1 rebounds over the course of six games (four starts).

Phoenix Suns forward Jalen Smith (10) dunks over Memphis Grizzlies forwards Kyle Anderson (1) and Brandon Clarke during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 27, 2021, in Phoenix.

Now Smith is back to coming off the bench, but Suns coach Monty Williams said he's earned the right to play more.

However, the opportunity is coming in the four position. Smith has a four-man body, but is a natural five in terms of rebounding and defending.

With the NBA trade deadline less than a month away, Smith's name will likely bubble up even more. 

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

Support local journalism. Start your online subscription.