Earlier today, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports reported that there are three teams that will approach Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart once free agency begins.
The Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers, and Denver Nuggets will all target the 24-year-old guard fresh off of his rookie contract. Here is the full quote from Mannix.
“I think there are a lot of people out there that really like Marcus Smart,” Mannix said. ” … Sacramento is going to get in it, I think Denver, if they can move some pieces around before free agency to clear some space, which i think they will — I think they’re going to get into it. I think Indiana is a team that, depending on what happens with Thaddeus Young and his contract, I think they’re going to get in it. ” … Going after him is one thing, but offering $15 million per year is another. … He’s going to get offered some money, but I’m not sure it’s going to be an offer that Boston’s not going to be able to match.”
The Sacramento Kings ran with rookie De’Aaron Fox last year as their starting guard and Buddy Hield at the 2-guard spot. Adding a veteran leader like Smart could tremendously help with the growth of the two young talents.
The Denver Nuggets do not have the finances to offer Smart the contract he is seeking at this time. Much like Sacramento, the Nuggets have two young guards running their offense in Jamal Murray and Gary Harris. However, they are both score first type players, so throwing in a guy like Smart to be the main floor general would open the offense up and allow the two to excel at their playing styles.
The Indiana Pacers are perhaps the most interesting team of the bunch. Indiana has typically stayed away from any big-time spending in the free agency period. That being said, the Pacers are a playoff caliber team that could use some help in their back court. Pairing Smart with Victor Oladipo is an intriguing possibility. Together the two would terrorize their opposition on the defensive side of the ball.
Smart has been a valuable contributor for the Celtics since being picked 6th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft. In 2017 Marcus Smart averaged 10.2 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.5 rebounds a game to go along with 1.3 steals in 29.9 minutes per game.
Since day one, Marcus has been a bulldog. He never gives up on a play and is always the first guy on the ground after any loose ball. He epitomizes everything it means to be a Celtic through his grit, determination, and toughness.
Take this play for example. Smart had just returned from a severe thumb injury and was in the game for a single play before this happened.
Smart’s utter lack of fear on the court and ultra-competitive play style makes him invaluable to a contending team.
Boston has openly expressed their desire to keep Smart and have refused to include his name in multiple trade scenarios in recent years. Danny Ainge recently appeared on 98.5 The Sports Hub and had this to say about Smart.
“We don’t negotiate in the media. We need Marcus. Marcus is a good player. He provides a lot of energy for our team and I hope we can work something out going forward.”
Marcus has made it clear that he believes he’s worth more than $12 million a year. This price tag is a steep one for the Celtics to match with so much money already on the books. Smart will be a restricted free agent this summer, so Boston will get the chance to match any offer that comes his way.
As long as the offers Smart will receive aren’t too egregious, chances are Ainge will do what he can to keep him on board.