Unfortunately for the Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart, free agency hasn’t been kind to him. As a tenacious defender and energy player, there was plenty of belief that he would be signed by now, but that hasn’t been the case. Smart reportedly has yet to speak with the Celtics about a new contract this off-season, and is reportedly likely sign the team’s one year, $6 million qualifying offer with a lack of interest on the free-agent market. However, recent reports have stated that the former sixth overall pick is generating some interest.
Last night, CSN’s A. Sherrod Blakely reported the Sacramento Kings are preparing an offer sheet for Smart which could force the Celtics into a tough decision.
All eyes will be on Kyrie Irving‘s contract situation next season, which will most definitely be a max-contract, leaving less space to retain Smart. Asking for between $13-14 millon per season, the Celtics have shown signs of being hesitant to sign the 24 year-old to a long-term contract at that price range. With the Kings’ upcoming offer sheet, it remains to be seen how valuable the Celtics consider him should they decide to match it.
The Celtics have expressed they want to bring him back, but it looks like at a much lower cost. Breaking the bank for a player who only specializes on defense and doing the “dirty work” isn’t exactly ideal, which signals why the team hasn’t come to an agreement as of now.
Should Smart sign the qualifying offer, the Celtics will get another year from their aggressive defender at almost half of what he was looking for heading into free-agency which is a win for a contending team. However, if offered a sizable contract from the Kings, Smart could put pressure on the Celtics to pay him at a price that could hinder them in the future.
In this situation, the Celtics will need to view their options, specifically at the guard position, with Irving and Terry Rozier’s upcoming free-agency next off-season. Both players will likely command a big pay-day, leaving little room to keep Smart around at his asking price. Rozier shined during the playoffs as the Celtics’ starting point guard which should add to his value when he enters restricted free-agency. If that is the case, the Celtics could be in position to choose between Rozier and Smart for salary cap purposes.
While Smart could always turn down the Kings’ offer-sheet and stick to the Celtics’ qualifying offer, it is unlikely as he can easily be offered a contract he can’t refuse. Sacramento has yet to officially sign Smart to an offer-sheet, but the Celtics will need to monitor Smart’s situation to make sure they have enough talent in the future.
Smart has plenty of value for his presence on the defensive end and his hustle plays, despite the limited interest this off-season. The free-agent period hasn’t ended yet, and there is still plenty of time to see how Smart’s situations pans out. As of now, the Celtics must be aware of their upcoming free-agents and how to have success with or without Smart in the picture.