Atlantic Notes: Smart, Embiid, Madar

Marcus Smart‘s extension with the Celtics puts him at the intersection of being a franchise cornerstone and on the trade block, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic.

As Weiss observes, the timing of Smart’s deal – during Summer League as opposed to right before the regular season – points to the possibility of his inclusion in a superstar deal, as the usual moratorium on trading players off an extension has been changed from six to five months due to the shortened offeason. As a result, Smart will be trade-eligible before the 2022 deadline.

Weiss adds that the Celtics wouldn’t make this deal strictly for trade purposes, noting that it’s also an indication of their belief in the gritty guard and that Smart and new head coach Ime Udoka are a match made in heaven.

He has that edge and toughness about him,” Udoka said of Smart soon after being hired. “The things he brings to your team are the things you’d love every player to bring.”

Udoka also called Smart the heart and soul of the team. The four-year, $77.1MM extension is a bet that that’s still true even if he’s given the added responsibility of leading the team’s offense.

We have more news from the Celtics:

  • Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston has similar thoughts, writing that – rather than preventing the Celtics from adding another big name – the Smart extension actually opens up multiple pathways for a deal to be made. Forsberg adds that despite the Celtics signing Dennis Schroder, Smart should be considered the best bet to be the team’s starting point guard entering the season, and that much of the Celtics’ ceiling as a team will revolve around how the trio of Smart, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown is able to function together with Smart at the helm.
  • Joel Embiid‘s super-max extension does more than just lock up the Sixers’ All-NBA center through 2027, writes Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. It also sends a message of stability and desirability to stars around the league as president Daryl Morey continues to shop Ben Simmons and hunt for a second superstar to pair with Embiid. Neubeck adds there were rumors the Knicks hoped to pair Embiid and Damian Lillard once Embiid’s contract ended in 2023, which is now off the table.
  • Partizan Belgrade is “very close” to a deal with Celtics stash pick Yam Madar to a two-year deal, according to a MozzartSport report (hat tip to Sportando). The Serbian team would pay $250K for Madar’s buyout with current team Hapoel Tel Aviv. It was previously reported that Madar was likely to sign with Ratiopharm Ulm.
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