In the wake of their Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Cavaliers, the Celtics will face a number of important roster decisions this offseason, with Marcus Smart‘s looming restricted free agency among the issues on the club’s docket. Asked about the possibility that the C’s might not be able – or willing – to pay $12-14MM per year to retain him, Smart told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan that price may actually be too low for him.
“To be honest, I’m worth more than $12-14 million,” Smart said. “Just for the things I do on the court that don’t show up on the stat sheet. You don’t find guys like that. I always leave everything on the court, every game. Tell me how many other players can say that.”
Smart, 24, has never been a reliable shooter or scorer since entering the NBA. His .367 FG% in 2017/18 matched a career high, and his .301 3PT% was only a little better than his career rate. Battling a thumb injury in the Eastern Finals, Smart shot .328/.226/.722 against Cleveland, including 1-for-10 in the decisive Game 7.
Still, Smart’s play on the defensive end of the court and his on-court leadership resulted in many of his teammates defending his 1-for-10 showing on Sunday night and calling him the heart of the Celtics, as MacMullan writes.
“That’s what people say,” Smart said. “I’m not sure if you can put a price on that.”
Since Smart will be a restricted free agent, the Celtics will be able to match any offer sheet he signs this summer, and there are no cap rules restricting what Boston can pay him. However, Smart and the C’s discussed an extension last fall and were too far apart in terms of dollar figures, sources tell MacMullan, so it will come down to how much the club is willing to invest in the former sixth overall pick.
The club is already on the hook for expensive deals for Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, with raises for key players like Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown coming down the road. Terry Rozier is also extension-eligible this offseason, and Boston seems unlikely to commit to long-term contracts for both Rozier and Smart.
Frank Urbina of HoopsHype examined potential landing spots for Smart if he leaves the Celtics, suggesting that teams like the Nets, Spurs, and Clippers could be fits.