Marcus Smart put out word he was “hurt and disgusted” by the Celtics’ approach to his free agency. He threatened to take the qualifying offer. He used the Kings for leverage.
All that agitating paid off.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Boston retains a key player in a year with championship potential. That’s most important. The Warriors will be favored against any opponent, but the Celtics might present the biggest challenge. (The Raptors and Rockets are also in the running for Golden State’s biggest challenger.)
This deal probably represents fair value for Smart. He thought was worth more. Boston surely wanted to keep him for less – especially considering the luxury-tax concerns.
Smart will earn between $11,607,143 and $14,772,727 next season, based on these reported terms. Even the low end would push the Celtics over the tax line.
They could escape the tax this season with a trade, but bigger bills are coming as Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are due major raises in coming years. Would Boston frontload Smart’s contract and pay more now to potentially save if this team faces the repeater tax down the road? That’d also make Smart more valuable in the future, with a higher share of his contract already paid off.
Smart is an excellent defender, capable of guarding all three perimeter positions and switching inside. He plays so hard and makes hustle plays all over the floor. He’s also a decent distributor. But he’s an awful 3-point shooter for someone who still launches jumpers so often, and that can kill spacing.
He’s a complex player – one definitely worth having, but also one Danny Ainge could easily trade. Boston also has Irving and Rozier at point guard, though both can become free agents next summer.
For now, Smart provides the Celtics with excellent production. He represents insurance for the following season. After that – or maybe even sooner – he could be a trade chip.
Boston accomplished its top offseason priority by retaining Smart. He gets life-changing money, and the Celtics bolster their present and future. Everyone involved should feel good about this agreement.