12:05pm: Smart and the Celtics are “going in the right direction” and “getting close” to working something out, a source tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). According to Himmelsbach, there’s a hope that a deal could be in place within the next week.
11:00am: Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and agent Happy Walters are engaged in serious talks about a new contract for restricted free agent Marcus Smart, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, the two sides are discussing a potential four-year deal in the $46-50MM range.
Smart, 24, entered free agency for the first time this summer after spending the first four seasons of his NBA career in Boston. Because he received a qualifying offer from the Celtics, Smart can’t sign outright with any other team, and has watched as most clubs with cap room around the league have used that space to sign or acquire other players.
Various reports during the last couple weeks have indicated that Smart has been frustrated with how his restricted free agency has played out. The Celtics had seemingly been reluctant to engage in direct negotiations, preferring to let the market set the price with an offer sheet. However, the veteran guard was unable to find a team willing to put a lucrative offer sheet on the table.
With Smart’s market drying up, the Celtics have apparently re-engaged with his camp on a long-term deal in the range of $12MM annually. That always seemed like about the right price for Smart, who reportedly received a four-year extension offer in the $44-48MM range from the Celtics last fall. However, the former sixth overall pick said at season’s end that he believed he was worth more than $12-14MM per year.
Smart, a career .360/.293/.756 shooter, has never been an overly productive or efficient offensive player, though he did post a career-high 4.8 APG in 2017/18. However, he’s considered one of the top perimeter defenders in the NBA and is viewed as an excellent teammate.
Smart is one of the last NBA restricted free agents still on the market. Clint Capela (Rockets), Rodney Hood (Cavaliers), Patrick McCaw (Warriors), and Montrezl Harrell (Clippers) remain unsigned too, along with a few two-way RFAs.