Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports reported earlier today that there are three teams that will approach 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 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.”
Three Teams Vying for Smart’s Services
The Sacramento Kings ran with rookie guard De’Aaron Fox last year as their starting guard, with Buddy Hield at the two-guard spot. The King’s aren’t in a position to contend at this time, so their interest in Smart is curious. That being said, adding a veteran like Smart could tremendously help with the growth of the two young talents and give the team a much-needed leader.
The Denver Nuggets do not have the finances to offer Smart the contract he is seeking at this time. They will need to ship some guys out in order to make the finances work for Smart. Much like Sacramento, the Nuggets have two young guards running their offense. Jamal Murray and Gary Harris are currently the starters, but they are both score-first type players. 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 play 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. With the Eastern Conference more wide open than it has been in nearly a decade, it makes sense for Indiana to put something together to compete. The Pacers are a playoff caliber team as is, but could use some help in their back court. Pairing Smart with Oladipo is an intriguing possibility. Together the two would terrorize their opposition on the defensive side of the ball.
Marcus Smart’s Impact
Smart has been a valuable contributor for the Celtics since being picked sixth 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.
Smart’s utter lack of fear on the court and ultra-competitive play style makes him invaluable to a contending team. It’s no secret that the Celtics would prefer to have him on their side heading into next season. The front office has 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 to match for the Celtics with so much money 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 good that Ainge will do what he can to keep him on board.