Storyline: Marcus Smart Free Agency

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A source close to Smart said Friday that the 24-year-old guard is hurt by the Celtics’ lack of communication during free agency, and that he is “over it’’ and prepared to ultimately sign a one-year qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next season if it comes to it. But league sources said the Celtics’ perceived lack of interest in contacting Smart was not indicative of any change in their view of the talented young guard. The Celtics and Smart’s camp remained apart on contract discussions, so the Celtics were essentially waiting for Smart to have talks with other teams and potentially sign an offer sheet that they would then almost certainly match. If this is a standoff, league sources said, the Celtics certainly do not view it that way.

With the way the landscape has unfolded, Smart could ultimately decide to sign his one-year qualifying offer of $6.1 million, a league source said. The source said Smart is “not afraid” to bet on himself, believing that a strong season could set him up for a bigger payday one year from now from another team. Though the storm of one-year contracts this summer will set up a crowded market in July of 2019, the prospect of becoming an unrestricted free agent has some appeal.

One league source said there is significant interest in Smart around the NBA at a price tag closer to $9 million annually, in line with the mid-level exception, but Smart has no plans at this point to entertain such offers. Multiple sources said that it appears increasingly likely that unless Smart significantly lowers his asking price — which no one expects the guard to do — he will ultimately accept the one-year, $6 million qualifying offer he received from the Celtics and then become an unrestricted free agent after next year.

Q: You’ve said you would like to see Aron Baynes and Marcus Smart return. If they leave, what are the most irreplaceable qualities those guys brought to the team? Brad STEVENS: We want them back for a number of reasons. Their energy is contagious, and it’s contagious every day. I tell the story all the time about (how) Aron Baynes races people in warmups. And he just brings an infectiousness that I can’t describe. And I think, like, my thoughts of this team are him and Marcus running down the court flying as everybody’s supposed to be doing high knees and warming up. Marcus has been like that for the last four years in everything that he’s done. So I think it’s their infectiousness. And I think with that comes a real reliability that is consistently shown on both ends of the court and certainly their prep. But on the court they do a lot of things that lead to winning — some that show up in a box score and many others that don’t.
6 months ago via ESPN

The guard is impacted by three factors: the lack of teams with cap space, depth at starting point guard and the finances of the Celtics in the future. Will another team invest $10 million to $12 million on a player to come off the bench? Maybe in 2016 when the cap spiked, but not two years later. For the reasons above, don’t be surprised if Smart signs his $6 million qualifying offer and enters free agency in 2019 as an unrestricted free agent. Unless, of course, Boston makes an offer with the intent of using the contract as a tradeable asset.
6 months ago via ESPN

Smart, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, was told that Boston might not be able — or willing — to afford the $12-14 million a year price tag that he reportedly has been seeking. “To be honest, I’m worth more than 12-14 million,” Smart told ESPN. “Just for the things I do on the court that don’t show up on the stat sheet. You don’t find guys like that. I always leave everything on the court, every game. Tell me how many other players can say that.”
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November 16, 2018 | 9:33 pm EST Update