Marcus Smart

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Boston Celtics

The Celtics are in one of the most enviable positions in the NBA, with a winning core composed primarily of veteran players in or near their prime and a wave of promising young players with years left on their rookie deals. This summer, then, won’t be a particularly eventful one relative to the club’s 2017 transformation.

While the club does have a few pending free agents, most are replaceable and nearly all are affordable. The question the Celtics will have to answer in the summer then, is whether they’d be better off welcoming the selected few back or auditioning new options.

Aron Baynes vertical GettyAron Baynes, C, 30 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $4.3MM deal in 2017
After two years serving as Andre Drummond‘s primary backup in Detroit, Baynes signed on with the Celtics over the summer, immediately slotting into the team’s rotation as the most physically imposing big man on the roster. While Al Horford has thrived in customary fashion handling the bulk of responsibility at the five, Baynes has done what’s been asked of him. The C’s won’t need to break the bank to bring Baynes back next season, so – without any other traditional big bodies on board – it’s an easy enough sell.

Shane Larkin, PG, 25 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $1.5MM deal in 2017
Larkin, an undersized 25-year-old, has bounced around the NBA since coming out of Miami in 2013, but hasn’t made much of an impression at any of his four stops despite fascinating speed. Given Boston’s depth and contention timeline, that’s not likely to change. It’s hard to imagine that a Celtics team with no shortage of assets would prefer a fourth-string point guard with a precarious NBA future over the roster flexibility that letting him walk would bring.

Marcus Smart, PG, 23 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $14.8MM deal in 2014
It’s weird to remember that Smart is still only 23 years old, considering that he’s carved out a niche as a gritty, reliable defender over the course of several postseasons. His offensive game may leave much to be desired – he’s a 29.1% career three-point shooter – but he helps a successful team win games night in and night out. It’s not that much of a stretch, then, to picture other teams looking to poach Smart’s services, hoping for some of that winning mojo to wear off on them. Unfortunately for Smart, a restricted free agent, there’s a dearth of teams projected to have cap space next summer, the majority of whom will likely pursue more grandiose home runs swings. Expect Smart back with the Celtics at a fair price.

Celtics Notes: Hayward, Smart, Offseason

Gordon Hayward‘s ugly left ankle injury was a horrible way for the Celtics and their prized free agent acquisition to start the 2017/18 season, but Chris Mannix of The Vertical (video link via NBC Sports Boston) hears from sources that there’s some “cautious optimism” about Hayward’s eventual recovery.

According to Mannix, the injury, which has been described to him as a “clean break,” is one that could have been worse, even if it didn’t look that way at the time. Mannix suggests that the All-Star forward should be able to make a full recovery.

The Celtics have yet to issue an update on Hayward themselves, so while Mannix’s report is encouraging, we’ll wait for official word from the team on Hayward’s diagnosis, possible surgery, and recovery outlook. In the meantime, here’s more out of Boston:

  • Applying for a disabled player exception would give the Celtics some flexibility to sign or trade a replacement for Hayward, as we noted on Tuesday night. Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype identifies some potential targets in free agency or on the trade market in the event that Boston does attempt to add reinforcements.
  • Charles Curtis of USA Today makes the case for why the Celtics are still a legit contender even without Hayward in the lineup.
  • Before the season opener on Tuesday, Marcus Smart spoke to reporters – including Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald – about his failed contract extension talks with the Celtics, suggesting that he’ll be more expensive to lock up as a restricted free agent next summer. “We thought it was close from the fact that we didn’t ask for much,” Smart said. “We were going to take less money than what we probably are valued, and some other things, but they just weren’t budging. (Luxury tax was) the big issue. They weren’t willing to pay the luxury tax. We even gave them options of things where they wouldn’t have to pay or be so deep into the luxury tax, and they still wouldn’t budge.”
  • In an in-depth piece for The Boston Globe, Adam Himmelsbach revisits the Celtics’ eventful offseason, with several Celtics executives, including Danny Ainge and Mike Zarren, providing quotes.

Celtics, Smart Fail To Reach Extension Agreement

Celtics shooting guard Marcus Smart is headed to restricted free agency next summer after the two sides failed to reach an extension agreement. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said the parties were “relatively close” as today’s deadline neared but couldn’t finalize the deal (Twitter link).

Smart and the Boston front office were “fully engaged” in talks, according to The Vertical’s Shams Charania, but couldn’t bridge the monetary gap before the deadline expired. Luxury tax implications were the primary concern for the Celtics, Charania adds (Twitter links). Boston has approximately $80MM in commitments next season just for its three star players, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford and Kyrie Irving.

Smart will make $4,538,020 this season. He’ll be a restricted free agent if Boston extends him a qualifying offer of just over $6MM, which it is virtually certain to do.

Smart’s representative had a number in mind and the Celtics got close to it, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweets. However, Smart’s camp believes he’ll receive a major offer sheet next July if he has a strong season, Kyler adds.

Smart’s agent, Happy Walters, confirmed that notion with Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald, saying “it will cost them a lot more” to sign his client next summer. Walters also said that he wasn’t seeking a max extension for Smart and that he was “very reasonable” in his asking price (Twitter links).

Smart appeared in 79 regular-season games last season and filled up the stat sheet, averaging 10.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.6 APG and 1.6 SPG in 30.4 MPG. His weakness is shooting, as he has posted averages of 35.8% from the field and 29.1% from 3-point range in his three NBA seasons.

Smart, 23, was the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft. He’ll share playing time with Jaylen Brown at the off-guard spot. He’ll also see some action at the point behind Irving.

Extension Rumors: Randle, Smart, McDermott, LaVine

As I detailed this morning, Monday isn’t just the last day of 2017 for fourth-year players to sign rookie scale extensions — it’s also the final day that extension-eligible veterans can sign new deals if they have more than one year remaining on their current contracts. That’s why veteran players like Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge are engaged in talks about possible extensions.

Here are a few more of the latest updates on extension-eligible players:

  • The Lakers and Julius Randle had “cordial conversations” about a new deal, but everyone understands the club’s salary cap situation, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. With L.A. looking to preserve 2018 cap room, no extension is expected for Randle.
  • Barring a sudden change, Marcus Smart and the Celtics are set to let today’s deadline pass without a new deal in place, a league source tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald tweets a similar sentiment, citing a source who says there’s “a pulse but not much else” in the Smart negotiations.
  • The Knicks are “highly unlikey” to sign newly-acquired sharpshooter Doug McDermott to a new deal today, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. As Begley observes, there’s no rush for the Knicks, who will have all season to see how McDermott fits in New York.
  • K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune suggested over the weekend that it’s a matter of when – not if – the Bulls lock up Zach LaVine to a new contract. It appears the “when” won’t be today though. Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link) hears from a source that a rookie scale extension for LaVine is “not likely.”

Celtics Notes: Smart, Morris, Tatum, Crowder

At one point this offseason, the Celtics were carrying 16 players on guaranteed contracts on their roster, facing a potentially tricky preseason decision on which player to cut or trade. However, their three-for-one deal for Kyrie Irving solved that problem, and cleared a path for the club to maintain some flexibility to open the season. After making five cuts within the last week, the Celtics are set to open the season with just 14 players on their NBA roster.

With Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird also in the mix on two-way contracts, Boston should have more than enough depth to start the season. Keeping that 15th roster spot open will allow the team to save a little money and keep its options open in the event that a potential trade or free agent signing surfaces.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • A week ago, Marcus Smart indicated that the Celtics had yet to engage in talks with his agent about a possible extension. The deadline to make a deal is today, and Danny Ainge recently confirmed to NBC Boston that he and Smart’s agent have begun to discuss numbers for a possible extension (Twitter link via Adam Kaufman).
  • David Aldridge of TNT (Twitter link) suggests that Austin Rivers‘ three-year, $35MM contract makes sense as a template for Smart, but Aldridge hears that the Celtics guard is seeking a more lucrative deal. Rookie scale extensions are also required to run at least four years.
  • Marcus Morris is expected to be sidelined for at least the first week of the regular season with right knee soreness, writes Jay King of While Morris rests and recovers, rookie forward Jayson Tatum may be in line to replace him in the starting lineup.
  • Jae Crowder, who says he’s thankful for the opportunity the Celtics gave him, still gets emotional when he remembers the day he was traded to Cleveland. Crowder was in Houston with his ailing mother, who passed away five minutes after he told her about the deal. Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald has the story and the quotes from Crowder.

Extension Rumors: LaVine, Capela, Smart, Randle

Earlier today, Andrew Wiggins became the fourth 2014 first-rounder to reach an agreement on a rookie scale extension with his current team, joining Joel Embiid, Gary Harris, and T.J. Warren. That still leaves 17 players eligible for a rookie scale extension up until the October 16 deadline.

Not all of those players are strong candidates for a new deal. It’s extremely unlikely, for instance, that the Raptors will extend Bruno Caboclo within the next few days, and we shouldn’t bet on Shabazz Napier getting a new long-term deal from Portland. Still, a number of viable candidates remain unsigned.

Here are the latest notes and rumors on some of those extension-eligible players:

  • ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider link) identifies Aaron Gordon (Magic), Elfrid Payton (Magic), Zach LaVine (Bulls), Jusuf Nurkic (Trail Blazers), and Rodney Hood (Jazz) as the most logical candidates for extensions among the group of remaining eligible players.
  • There’s “nothing substantive” so far between LaVine and the Bulls, but that could change by next Monday, TNT’s David Aldridge writes in his rundown of extension candidates at Aldridge – who examines each 2014 first-rounder individually – is also somewhat bullish on the possibility of new deals for Nurkic, Hood, and Rockets big man Clint Capela.
  • Marcus Smart said earlier this week that his agent has yet to hear from the Celtics about a possible extension. Today, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge didn’t exactly offer clarity on the subject, indicating that he has had “talks” about a new contract for Smart, but no “negotiations” (Twitter link via Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald).
  • Julius Randle is extension-eligible, but his future with the Lakers is linked to the team’s pursuit of 2018 free agents, as Bill Oram of The Orange County Register details. Although Randle says his reps have been in touch with the Lakers, an extension this year is an extreme long shot.

Celtics Have Yet To Engage Marcus Smart On Extension

Although fourth-year guard Marcus Smart has a strong desire to remain with the Celtics for the long term, he and agent Happy Walters have yet to hear from the team about a possible rookie scale extension, he tells Shams Charania of The Vertical.

Smart, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, is extension-eligible for the first time this offseason. He and the Celtics will have until October 16 to work out an agreement. If the two sides don’t finalize a new deal, Smart would remain on track to become a restricted free agent during the summer of 2018.

Although Smart has provided solid defense during his three years with the Celtics, he continues to struggle with his offensive game. The 23-year-old averaged a career-high 10.6 PPG and 4.6 APG in 2016/17, but his .359 FG% and .283 3PT% were about in line with his unimpressive career rates.

Smart, who reportedly lost about 20 pounds during the offseason, will have an opportunity to claim a larger role in the Celtics’ rotation this year, with so much roster turnover taking place around him. Backcourt mate Avery Bradley is no longer in the picture, and neither is fellow defensive stopper Jae Crowder.

Deadlines often spur action, so the Celtics could reach out and engage in negotiations with Smart’s camp within the next week. The team no longer has to worry about paying Bradley or Isaiah Thomas in free agency next summer, and doesn’t project to have any cap room to pursue outside free agents, so it would make sense for the club to try to lock up its own players. For now though, it doesn’t look like an extension for Smart is imminent.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, KP, Smart, Lowry, McDaniels

The Knicks and Carmelo Anthony have officially separated and the organization is moving on from their once perennial All-Star. Now is the time for the Knicks to move on from Anthony through the way the team plays the game, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

Head coach Jeff Hornacek now has a retooled roster and the freedom to coach the team his way. Former team president Phil Jackson harped on the triangle offense, which affected Hornacek’s own coaching style and forced the team to run a scheme many players later admitted was uncomfortable. Thus far in training camp, Hornacek said the team is focused on playing at a quicker pace.

“We want to move the ball,’’ Hornacek said. “We’ve had plays out there that I wish I could bottle up and have these guys do it every time. We’ve had some fantastic, six, seven extra passes and a guy nails the shot. We’ll continue to harp on that. We’ll continue to encourage the guys every time that happens, make or miss, and that’s that contagious thing.”

Hornacek also said the Knicks will rely on improved defense even if the team did not necessarily acquire any defensive upgrades. While Anthony was on the roster, he was criticized for holding the ball too long and playing spotty defense. While removing the 10-time all-star will not fix the Knicks, it gives the team a chance find a game plan that works.

Read up on additional news around the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks GM Scott Perry said to MSG’s Alan Hahn (via ESPN’s Ian Begley) that does not want to put too much pressure on Kristaps Porzingis as the Latvian big man settles in as the team’s franchise player. “I never want to put that much pressure on one individual,” Perry said. “He knows that he needs every one of his teammates to help this team be successful.”
  • Celtics‘ guard Marcus Smart is aware of the massive deals players around the NBA are signing but he is focused on the season and not free agency. “It’s huge; it’s crazy,” Smart said to NBC Sports Boston’s A. Sherrod Blakely. “Those guys definitely deserve it. But like I said, that’s not my focus. I can’t control what those guys are getting. I can only control what I can control.”
  • After signing a massive three-year deal worth up to $100MM to remain in Toronto, Kyle Lowry said to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star his new deal will not kill his desire to be great.
  • K.J. McDaniels has been productive for every team he has played for, and this season he wants to put it all together with the Raptors, Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype writes.
  • While Furkan Korkmaz is likely a year away from having a major NBA impact, David Murphy of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes that the rookie has impressed Sixers officials in training camp.

O’Connor’s Latest: Capela, Smart, Wiggins, Nuggets

Gary Harris (Nuggets), Marcus Smart (Celtics), Jabari Parker (Bucks), and Clint Capela (Rockets) are among the most intriguing players eligible for rookie scale contract extensions this offseason, Kevin O’Connor writes in his latest piece for The Ringer. In addition to going into detail on those four players, who have until October 16 to work out new deals with their respective clubs, O’Connor drops a few other notable tidbits within his article, so let’s round up the highlights…

  • The Rockets and Capela have had “very introductory” discussions on a contract extension, according to O’Connor. Those discussions figure to become more frequent and more in-depth as next month’s extension deadline nears.
  • The general consensus among the league sources O’Connor has talked to is that Smart’s next contract figures to be in the neighborhood of Andre Roberson‘s three-year, $30MM deal, given both players’ defensive prowess and offensive limitations. O’Connor believes the Celtics guard will be able to do better than that though, and I’m inclined to agree. Smart will be a restricted free agent next summer if he’s not extended this offseason.
  • Multiple league sources have told O’Connor that Andrew Wiggins is expected to sign the contract extension offered by the Timberwolves once he gets his new representation in order. Wiggins filed paperwork to part ways with Bill Duffy and BDA Sports shortly after Minnesota put a five-year, maximum salary offer on the table.
  • Multiple sources believe the Nuggets were targeting OG Anunoby in June’s draft when they traded down from No. 13 to No. 24, says O’Connor. Anunoby ended up coming off the board one spot earlier, with Toronto nabbing him at No. 23. Denver used the 24th pick on Tyler Lydon.

Celtics Notes: Irving, Horford, Morris, Smart

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers left the Celtics several years ago as Boston entered a rebuilding period, so he’s as impressed as anyone with how quickly the C’s have managed to retool their roster and become a legit contender. As Stephen Hewitt of The Boston Herald details, Rivers still has a fondness for Boston, along with many members of the organization, and admires the work the front office has done in recent years.

“[I] love Danny (Ainge), love (owner Steve Pagliuca), that whole group, and I just want them to do well. I really do,” Rivers said. “I love what they’ve done. I think the turnaround in four years starting with hiring Brad (Stevens). … (Ainge) and (assistant general manager) Mike Zarren have done the best job I’ve seen in sports in a long, long time of rebuilding. Maybe ever.”

Rivers also had praise this week specifically for the acquisition of Kyrie Irving. Attending a fundraising event in Boston, Rivers joked that he’d rather have seen Irving land in Los Angeles, but expects the young point guard to thrive with the Celtics.

“This is a perfect situation for him,” Rivers said. “The Celtics gave up a lot to get him, but he’s 25 years old and that’s the other thing people forget about: He’s so young. He’s going to be a star here for a long time.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge answered questions this week about completing the Irving trade, why Boston was willing to give up so much to get him, and how Irving and Gordon Hayward will mesh on the court (video link).
  • Although Al Horford spent a good chunk of last season playing power forward, the Celtics sound as if they’re leaning toward having him start the 2017/18 campaign at center, per ESPN’s Zach Lowe (link via Jay King of That would allow Boston to start Horford alongside a power forward like Marcus Morris rather than a center like Aron Baynes.
  • A. Sherrod Blakely of provides an update on the upcoming trial for Morris and his brother Markieff Morris, who face aggravated assault charges.
  • Marcus Smart, who is eligible for a contract extension this offseason, said this week that he’s lost 20 pounds since the end of last season and feels more “explosive” than he used to (Twitter link via Taylor C. Snow of Smart also spoke about the trade that sent Isaiah Thomas to Cleveland, suggesting that losing Thomas “still feels unreal” (video link via
  • Michael Lee of The Vertical spoke to some of Irving’s old coaches, who believe the star point guard is ready to show that he can be a franchise player.
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