Marcus Smart has been nothing short of being the electric spark that gets Boston fans excited nightly. The stats that don’t show up are what makes him extremely valuable in today’s NBA, which has earned him the respect he deserves. From hustle plays to his especially stifling defense, Smart might not be “flashy”, but he could be the right signing for the right price. Given his RFA status this off-season, he went on to say: “To be honest, I’m worth more than $12-$14 Million. Just for the things I do on the court that don’t show up .. You don’t find guys like that.” Hmm. Maybe. Defense is pretty awful in the NBA, and it is tough to put a price on great D. But let’s take a deeper look to see how valuable Marcus is, and what would be the ‘smart’ decision that deals with his upcoming contract situation.

Dollar Dollar Bills, Y’all 

$12-$14 million doesn’t seem like a lot in professional sports, but to us mud bloods that’s a whole bunch of change. Unfortunately, as things stand, Boston will have three players (Irving, Horford, Hayward) with cap hits over $20 million next season. This leaves doubt that the Celtics would be able to afford Marcus. It’s tough to argue that the C’s are in need of a guard with Irving coming back and the emergence of Rozier. Plus, their newly reported interest in a big-man this coming draft is taking shape. His thumb is also an issue, and we all know Danny doesn’t like injured PGs.

No, Smart also doesn’t scream “floor general”, and his shot selection makes Boston yell “Why?!” at their TVs. Yet, when the game is on the line, he always seems to be in the center of the action. His passion and aggression are probably the pinnacles of his game. That’s pretty rare to find in any player, and in late-game situations his confidence on both ends consistently keeps the momentum in favor of Boston. You can’t beat a guy who gives you all that, but at $12-$14 million? In comparison to his current $4.5 million per year, Smart actually does deserve to make a bit more. Take a look at this list below. He certainly out plays most of these guys, solely on his energy and game changing defense. 10.2 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.5 RPG to go along with 1.3 SPG isn’t bad for 30 minutes, either.

A Penny Saved Is a Penny Earned

Previously, I highlighted some trade scenarios that could land the Celtics a prime-time big man. Being said, the move now might be to use Smart’s value as a bargaining chip to get the big man they desire instead of trading a core player. The Dallas Mavericks come to mind, as they are in search or a stable SG themselves. Mo Bamba, the lengthy beast from Texas, has been mentioned leading up to the draft as a potential Celtics’ wish-list target. It’s being forecast though that he falls to either Memphis or Dallas at #4/#5 respectively. Projected to land between #3-#7, the 7′, 225lb, 8′ wingspan stud could be gone before you know it.

It’s no secret the C’s need a big with Horford on his last legs. Theis is a good backup, and Baynes is just okay. A sign-and-trade would have to be the go-to in order to use Smart as bait, otherwise he leaves the C’s getting nothing in return. Still, Boston would only be able to offer a $6 million tender to stay. They may also match any offer that’s made by another team, but unlikely. It would financially burden Boston and that’s something Danny Ainge seldom does. Still, he could take the qualifying offer from the C’s and play one more for Gang Green, become an unrestricted free agent in 2019 when all teams will have more money to throw around. Now would be the time to use his value before Boston ends up empty-handed.

‘Cobra’ Commander

Packaging Smart and a pick or two could be enough for the Dallas Mavericks. Pair him with emerging rookie Dennis Smith Jr., sharp-shooter Wesley Mathews, rim-attacker Harrison Barnes, and a young big in Nerlens Noel. It would give Smart the opportunity to lead the charge and command ball handling aside from DSJ. Earning the nickname “Cobra”, Marcus is always ready to strike. There potential for an increase in minuets should he go to Dallas, and it would allow him to excel in that run and gun offense and be more apart of the action. That 10.2 PPG could get as high as 15-16 in the right place.

Setting up Boston with the #5 pick, it gives hope that Bagley, Ayton, Donic or Johnson is taken before Bamba comes off the board. Dallas will have money to play with, so adding a vet PG/SG like Smart could give Dallas the edge they need to get back to the Western Conference elite. I can’t show what a trade would look like via ESPN trade machine, but trust me, it would work financially.



Boston receives:

#5 pick – 2018 NBA draft

Dallas receives:

Marcus Smart

2019 1st round pick – Sacramento

2019 1st round pick – Memphis

Not only does this help Boston with a big-man, but it’s a lovely move for Dallas and their future.  The Sacramento pick could be top-5 next year depending how poorly they do, which would be great for Dallas. Boston adds a young center to their already crazy talented core, and Dallas gets their enforcer with Smart with high hopes for high picks in the future. It’s a tough call, but Danny is a tough guy, and Mark Cuban just might be crazy enough to pull the trigger.

Valley of the Sun

Marcus absolutely wants to remain a Celtic. There’s potential for a ring, yearly battles deep into the playoffs, and a young core ready to take over the NBA. It would be SMART for him to stay put. Sure, he wont make as much money or be the starter, but coming off the bench for a ready-to-be-champion team would be silly to think about going elsewhere. Perhaps inevitable, Brown and Tatum aren’t leaving in a package anything less for a Hall of Famer, but he and Rozier are the most available trade pieces should Smart re-sign with Boston.

Phoenix would be a tremendous landing spot for the PG/SG if not traded, as Jackson, Booker, and Chriss already have something brewing. Plus, they have the #1 pick in the draft, which is looking like center DeAndre Ayton. The Copper State is nice, plus it beats New England winters. They could give him the money and situation he wants, too; something Boston can’t. But, the Celtics CAN hand over a pretty good promise of a championship and beyond, plus a key bench role to keep the juices flowing around 100 Legends Way. It’s really all up to Marcus and how he wants to navigate his future and how much love he has for the city.

“Everybody is Replaceable”

The Phoenix Suns are in desperate need of defense, and so are the Dallas Mavericks. Adding a spark like Smart would be a big step in the right direction. However, Marcus breathes Boston air, and this past Thursday, Ainge spoke about the situation:

“I think that everybody is replaceable. If there was ever a situation with a team where guys would know that, it would be this team that just went through what we went through this year. We’re all replaceable, and we’ll be able to move on and move forward without any players. Nobody is irreplaceable, but Marcus certainly is a player that has been big for us over the last few years.”

Knowing how the C’s rock and roll, Smart might’ve seen his last days in the green and white. An elite defender and spark plug for any lineup, no question. However, with speculation over acquiring a coveted big man, it could be what brings Boston to cut ties. Smart would be an excellent asset to dangle as Rozier could be the backup Kyrie needs. The bench also gets a little smoother with Hayward back, burying Smart on an already lengthy bench. Ainge would be wise to utilize him to a acquire a pick that might land that down low juggernaut, if he can.
I guess well see. All this is speculation at this point. Could he re-sign for $6 million and play one last year for Boston at 24 years old? Will he be used as trade bait for a draft pick or otherwise? Is $12-$14 million a year too much for spotty shooting and questionable ball handling? One thing’s for sure, the Celtics never seem to be short of theatrics.Image result for marcus smart celebrate
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