Marcus Smart is less than a week from reaching restricted free agency, and potential suitors for the four-year veteran are beginning to emerge. According to Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), the Bulls, Suns, Pacers, and Mavericks are among the teams that could challenge the Celtics for Smart’s services.
The Mavericks were identified as a possible suitor for Smart last week, but the draft results may have altered their free agency plans. Having selected Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson on Thursday, Dallas appears more likely to target big men in free agency — Schultz suggests the Mavs’ interest in Smart “depends on [the] price.”
As for the other teams mentioned by Schultz, they’d all make some sense as potential landing spots. The Pacers are closer to contending than Phoenix or Chicago, but at age 24, Smart is capable of either contributing right away to a playoff team or being a long-term building block for a club that’s still a year or two away.
The Suns’ point guard outlook remains somewhat unclear, with Brandon Knight coming off a torn ACL and Elie Okobo probably not ready for a major role. The Bulls have Kris Dunn at the point, while the Pacers figure to retain Darren Collison and Cory Joseph. However, both of those teams should have cap space, and could use Smart to create intriguing combinations in their respective backcourts.
Smart, who missed time with a thumb injury in 2017/18, averaged 10.2 PPG, 4.8 APG, and 3.5 RPG for the season. While his numbers – particularly his .367/.301/.729 shooting line – were modest, the 24-year-old is considered one of the NBA’s most talented perimeter defenders, and has been a culture-setter in Boston.
There’s mutual interest between Smart and the Celtics for a new deal, but the club has several other expensive long-term commitments to consider, so it’s not clear how high the front office will be willing to go to retain the hard-nosed guard.