Marcus Smart

Kyler’s Latest: Bradley, Celtics, Barton, Ariza

While Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony have generated the most discussion as trade candidates in recent weeks, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders suggests in his latest piece that there are a number of players entering contract years who could become the subjects of trade rumors over the course of the 2017/18 season. Kyler took a closer look at a few of those players, so let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • Sources tell Kyler that the Pistons are aware Avery Bradley will be expensive in unrestricted free agency next summer, but will have no problem paying him if he fits in like they hope. As Kyler notes, the Pistons appear more comfortable at this point with a long-term commitment to Bradley than they were with a similar deal for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
  • While Isaiah Thomas wants to land a maximum salary contract from the Celtics in 2018, Kyler points to Jrue Holiday and Kyle Lowry as point guards who were believed to be max-salary candidates this summer and ultimately settled for a little less. As Kyler observes, with Thomas and Marcus Smart headed for free agency next offseason, and Terry Rozier not far behind, Boston could explore some backcourt trade options before 2018’s trade deadline.
  • There’s a belief that the Nuggets “can and would” pay Will Barton when he reaches unrestricted free agency next summer, but if Denver ends up making a big trade, Barton could be a prime candidate to be included, says Kyler.
  • The Rockets‘ stance this offseason has been that Trevor Ariza isn’t available in trades, including to the Knicks in a potential Carmelo Anthony deal, says Kyler.
  • The Jazz are taking a wait-and-see approach with Derrick Favors, who could become a trade candidate at this season’s deadline, with his free agency looming. Big men with a skill-set like Favors’ haven’t been valued particularly highly in recent years, which is a double-edged sword for Utah — he may not have much trade value, but he also may not be overly expensive if the club wants to re-sign him.

Eastern Rumors: Ellington, Haslem, Smart, Hawks

The belief among Heat players is that Wayne Ellington will be back with the team next season, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Ellington is a candidate to be released within the next 48 hours or so, since his $6.27MM salary for 2017/18 – currently non-guaranteed – will become fully guaranteed if he remains under contract.

Even if the Heat ultimately decide that they need to waive Ellington to create some extra cap room for another move, that doesn’t necessarily rule out his return — the team could eventually re-sign him to a deal worth the $4.3MM room exception, if he’s open to accepting a pay cut.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Reynolds provides another Heat-related tidbit, tweeting that Udonis Haslem is on the Cavaliers‘ radar. Haslem, who has spent his entire career in Miami, wants to stay with the Heat, and that looks like the most probable outcome. But a conversation between Haslem and the Cavs is likely, per Reynolds.
  • On Wednesday, an ESPN report indicated that the Celtics had called the Knicks about Marcus Smart, but New York’s level of interest in Smart was unclear. Following up on that story, Marc Berman of The New York Post reports that the Knicks do indeed have interest in Smart and are considering trade options as a way of filling part or all of their remaining cap space.
  • Italian forward Nicolo Melli received a contract offer from the Hawks, according to international basketball journalist David Pick (Twitter link). However, Pick reports that Melli has turned down that offer and will sign a multiyear pact with Fenerbahce in Turkey. Per Sportando (Twitter link), Melli’s new deal isn’t done yet, but will be within a few days.
  • The Raptors are the latest team to line up a deal to add a sponsored patch to their jersey, according to TSN’s Rick Westhead, who reports that Toronto has signed a three-year agreement with insurance company Sun Life Financial. The deal will pay Raptors ownership more than $5MM annually, sources tell Westhead. The list of NBA clubs that have agreed to jersey sponsorship deals can be found here.

Celtics Shopping Crowder, Smart, Bradley

In an effort to clear the cap room necessary to sign Gordon Hayward to his agreed-upon maximum salary contract, the Celtics have been discussing trades involving Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, and Avery Bradley, sources tell Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. According to the ESPN duo, Boston has discussed “trade concepts” involving those players with at least six teams.

[RELATED: Gordon Hayward to sign with Celtics]

Based on the NBA’s previous salary cap projections, it appeared the Celtics would have enough cap flexibility to move a smaller contract, such as Terry Rozier‘s, in order to create maximum salary room. However, when the cap came in lower than expected, at about $99MM, it all but guaranteed that Boston would have to move one of Crowder, Smart, or Bradley to make a max deal work.

Smart and Bradley are each entering contract years, so Crowder would likely be the most valuable trade chip of the three players. Crowder is under contract for the next three years for a total of about $22MM, making him a bargain. He’s also part of a growing logjam at small forward in Boston, with Hayward joining recent top-three picks Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.

According to Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link), the Celtics offered Crowder to late-lottery teams leading up to June’s draft, hoping to acquire a pick and a young player. If the team wasn’t able to land that sort of package then, it’s even less likely now, given Boston’s reduced leverage, but Crowder should still have solid value.

Per Ian Begley of ESPN.com, the Celtics reached out to the Knicks today about Smart, but New York’s level of interest is unclear.

In addition to making a trade, the Celtics will likely have to renounce all their free agents and perhaps part with Jordan Mickey and Demetrius Jackson to make room for Hayward.

Knicks Rumors: Rondo, Point Guards, Smart

The Knicks have been in touch with free agent point guard Rajon Rondo, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). However, the two sides haven’t set up a meeting at this point, per Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog (Twitter link).

While a report on July 1 indicated that New York had reached out to Rondo’s camp, Marc Berman of The New York Post suggests that the club didn’t formally make contact until today (Twitter link). Ian Begley of ESPN.com, who initially reported the team’s contact with Rondo on Saturday, reiterates that account, though he acknowledges that “no substantive conversation” happened over the weekend.

Regardless of when the Knicks first touched base with Rondo and his reps, it’s clear that the team continues to explore all its options as it contemplates adding a veteran guard to the roster. Here’s more on that search:

  • Some people who have been in contact with the Knicks recently got the impression that the team’s interest in Rondo isn’t particularly strong, per Begley.
  • The Knicks have heard from the Celtics, who are open to trading Marcus Smart, but it’s not clear whether or not New York is interested in Smart, writes Begley.
  • Derrick Rose and Shelvin Mack remain on the Knicks’ radar, according to Begley, who hears that the team is on the lookout for a mentor for rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina.

Celtics ‘Stunned’ By Thunder’s Paul George Trade

Like the rest of the NBA world, the Celtics were “stunned” by Friday’s news that the Pacers agreed to send Paul George to Oklahoma City in a trade for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald.

[RELATED: Pacers to trade Paul George to Thunder]

Boston had been planning to put a formal, competitive offer on the table for George, but the team wasn’t ready to try to finalize a deal with the Pacers until Gordon Hayward made a decision, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (link via RealGM).

According to Wojnarowski, the Pacers were interested in a package of Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, and multiple picks from the Celtics. Sources told Bulpett that the Celtics were “more than ready” to propose a deal that included multiple players and picks, suggesting that Boston’s best offer probably would have been Crowder, Smart, and three future first-rounders (likely some combination of the Celtics’ own picks and the Grizzlies’ and Clippers’ picks).

Previous reports had suggested that the Celtics were unwilling to include their 2018 Nets and Lakers first-rounders, or recent lottery picks Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Between Wojnarowski’s and Bulpett’s accounts, there seems to be a little ambiguity about whether what was actually on the table for the Pacers from the Celtics. I get the impression that Boston likely would’ve been willing to offer Crowder, Smart, and multiple first-rounders eventually, but weren’t prepared to make a commitment yet, prompting the Pacers to move on to make a deal with the Thunder.

According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com, many NBA executives he has spoken to believe that Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard was too “hell-bent” on keeping George out of the Eastern Conference. Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link) confirms that he has heard this too, though he adds that some Western teams are confused because they felt their offers were better than Oklahoma City’s.

According to Wojnarowski, one scenario involving a Western team that the Pacers turned down was an offer of Gary Harris and a protected first-round pick (which likely would’ve become a second-rounder) from the Nuggets. George would have gone to Cleveland in that scenario, with the Nuggets getting Kevin Love.

Lowe’s Latest: George, Hayward, Ibaka, Gallinari

A proposed scenario that would see the Celtics sign Gordon Hayward, trade for Paul George, and sign George to a contract extension isn’t realistic, writes Zach Lowe in his latest report for ESPN.com. As Lowe points out, there would be no reason for George to re-up with Boston right away in that scenario unless he could renegotiate a maximum salary, and it would be extremely difficult for the C’s to accommodate such a deal without moving Al Horford.

Knowing that if they acquire George, he could be a rental, the Celtics have thus far been unwilling to include Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick, or the Lakers’ 2018 first-rounder in any of their offers to Indiana, Lowe reports. Lowe’s best guess at Boston’s offer is a package that would include Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, and one of the team’s other first-round picks. The C’s will be reluctant to go much higher than that, given their fear that George could leave in 2018 — Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times wrote on Thursday night that the Pacers forward is still telling friends he expects to be a Laker in 2018.

While George could just be a one-year rental, the Celtics have competition for him. According to Lowe, the Wizards would likely be willing to sign-and-trade Otto Porter and include a first-round pick. The Cavaliers would swap Kevin Love straight up, though that doesn’t interest Indiana much, per Lowe. If the Nuggets get involved again via three-way talks for George and Love, they could offer Gary Harris and a first-round pick, though NBA execs expect Harris to command upwards of $20MM annually on his next contract, which is due soon, says Lowe.

Here’s more from Lowe with the free agent period right around the corner:

  • Lowe views Hayward as less than a 50-50 bet to stay with the Jazz, with both the Celtics and Heat as legitimate suitors. The ESPN scribe adds that he wouldn’t be surprised if a mystery fourth team ends up getting a meeting with Hayward.
  • The market for Raptors big man Serge Ibaka and Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari is expected to be in about the $20MM-per-year range, sources tell Lowe.
  • The Sixers have told player agents that they plan on signing one-year contracts in free agency this summer to preserve future cap space. They may also use some of their current cap room to sign Robert Covington to a renegotiated extension, writes Lowe.
  • Lowe expects the Bucks to sign Tony Snell to a deal in the range of $10-12MM annually.
  • Despite drafting De’Aaron Fox, the Kings may still spend on a free agent point guard as a veteran mentor, particularly if they decide they want to chase a playoff spot right away, says Lowe.
  • The Grizzlies are “crossing their fingers” that the market for RFA power forward JaMychal Green isn’t as competitive as expected, according to Lowe.

Celtics Notes: Free Agents, Thomas, Green, George

Next season’s Celtics may have little resemblance to the group that earned the East’s top seed and reached the conference finals, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Free agents Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko are both very unlikely to be-resigned, according to Deveney. Johnson started 77 games this season, but his role was cut severely in the playoffs. Fellow free agents Gerald Green and James Young will also probably be let go. Kelly Olynyk may be a tougher call as a restricted free agent. The Celtics would like to keep him, Deveney notes, but they aren’t certain to match a large offer. The team would also like to trade center Tyler Zeller, who has one year left on his contract at $8MM, which won’t be guaranteed until July 2nd.

There’s more today out of Boston:

  • Isaiah Thomas is eligible for an extension this summer, but it’s unlikely to happen, Deveney states in the same story. Thomas has one year left on his deal at the extreme bargain price of about $6.26MM. The most likely scenario, according to Deveney, is that Thomas will play out his current contract, then pursue a max deal starting at more than $30MM per season in 2018, either from the Celtics or another organization. There has been speculation about a possible Thomas trade this summer, but Deveney says the Celtics haven’t talked to anyone about dealing him. Other offseason decisions include possible extensions for Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley, and Deveney notes that Boston can’t afford to invest big money in all three guards.
  • Executives around the league believe the Celtics will hold on to the No. 1 draft pick and select Markelle Fultz, Deveney adds in the same piece. They will take a year to see how he meshes with Thomas, Bradley and Smart before making any long-term decisions. Kansas forward Josh Jackson is probably the most likely choice if they pass on Fultz, according to Deveney.
  • At today’s exit interview, Green said he wants to return to the Celtics and help them win a title, tweets A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE. The 31-year-old played just 47 games during the season, but started seven times in the playoffs.
  • Al Horford, who signed with the Celtics last summer, believes Boston will be a popular destination for free agents, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “I think it’s gonna be very attractive,” he said. “If you look at our team, the upside and everything, it’s a good time to be a Celtic.”
  • Boston has the assets to land Paul George in a trade if he refuses to sign a long-term deal with the Pacers, according to Bobby Marks of The Vertical. Marks and Chris Mannix discuss the Celtics’ offseason options in a video on the Vertical website, with Marks saying a trade with Indiana is feasible without including the Nets’ pick for this year or 2018. He suggests a package of Jae Crowder, Terry Rozier, Zeller and the Grizzlies’ 2019 first-rounder may be enough to get a deal done.

Smart To Start In Lieu Of Thomas

The Celtics will have a tough time replacing the injured Isaiah Thomas for the remainder of their Eastern Conference Finals matchup with the Cavaliers but don’t expect interim starter Marcus Smart to shy away from the opportunity.

Everybody has to step up once again. This is an opportunity for everybody to make a bigger impact on the game,” Smart told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England. “It’s devastating not to have Isaiah. Not just because of his scoring ability, but just because he’s a big part of our team. He’s one of our brothers and he’s down. We understand it. We respect everything that he’s done. But now is the time for everybody else to step up.

In 15 postseason games for the Celtics so far this season, Smart has averaged 7.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. More important than any statistical contribution, however, is his presence as a disruptive, physical force.

As we wrote yesterday, Thomas has been ruled out for the remainder of the postseason and Blakely shares that the guard will take the next few days to discuss his injury with hip specialists.

Blakely also notes that the absence of Thomas will allow rookie point guard Terry Rozier to see more time on the court, a bittersweet gift for the Ohio native.

Celtics Notes: Grousbeck, George, Butler, Ainge

The Celtics are getting plenty of advice after landing the top pick in this year’s draft, but managing partner Wyc Grousbeck sounds like his decision is already made. Speaking with Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti in a video on CSNNE, Grousbeck said Boston will hold onto the selection “unless someone blows us away with an offer.”

“I think these picks are very, very valuable,” he said. “If you’re going to trade these picks for an established star making max, you’ve got to send max money out the door as well, so you’ve got to send more guys along, so this guy coming back had better be the second coming. What’s more, he’s going to be halfway through his career, whoever he is, and he’s going to be paid a lot of money, which restricts you in other ways.

“So if you can get a really good guy with this pick, you’ve got him, you can build with him, you can coach him up. You get to max money eventually, five to six years down the road, but it’s a totally different thing.”

There’s more out of Boston as the city prepares for the Eastern Conference finals and the No. 1 pick:

  • Winning the lottery gives the Celtics more leverage if they decide to reopen trade talks with the Pacers or Bulls, writes Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders. When Boston inquired about Paul George before the trade deadline, the Pacers were asking for a package that included the pick, along with Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown. According to Greene, the Celtics refused to part with Crowder in any deal, which shut down the pursuit of George. Boston also had interest in Jimmy Butler, and there have been reports that those talks will resume this summer.
  • President of basketball operations Danny Ainge is enjoying the rewards of his patience, according to Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com. Ainge started the rebuilding process in 2013 by trading Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets for a package of draft picks that produced the No. 3 selection last year [Brown], the No. 1 this season and Brooklyn’s unprotected first-rounder in 2018. Ainge has resisted the temptation to part with those picks and is in the process of building a group of talented young players around his veteran core.
  • Ainge plans to keep his options open between now and the draft, but he understands that his assets increased significantly Tuesday night, relays Kurt Helin of NBC Sports“At the trade deadline we were trading away the possibility of the No. 1 pick, a 25 percent chance of the No. 1 pick, but that’s a 75 percent chance of not having that pick, and that’s how teams look at it, which is probably why we didn’t get a deal done,” Ainge said. “Now we have the No. 1 pick and we will explore the value of it.”

Northwest Notes: Hayward, Jazz, OKC, Gibson

Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward has earned a max contract, according to Randy Hollis of The Deseret News. Hollis admits that he had been wrong about Hayward and hopes that Hayward elects to return to the Jazz in free agency in a fascinating piece that touts the budding star’s basketball brilliance.

Let’s round up a few more notes from around the Northwest…

  • Alec Burks has had a difficult past few years as a result of injury, but he’s poised for a comeback, reports Mike Sorensen of The Deseret News. “It’s frustrating,” Burke said to Sorensen. “My (latest) injury was way more serious than I thought. But I’m a soldier and I learned a lot about my body and the game of basketball during the time out.”
  • While Trey Lyles suffered through a disappointing sophomore campaign, Jazz coach Quin Snyder is certainly not giving up on his forward, per Randy Hollis of The Deseret News. “I think, for Trey, like a lot of young players, it’s more about him taking stock and looking at the year, figuring out he can use it to improve,” Snyder said. “Sometimes you have to go through some things like that in order to get a good gauge on where you are. I expect Trey to have a terrific summer and look forward to him leveraging some of that adversity to make himself a better player.”
  • Taj Gibson would love to return to the Thunder, but he will have many suitors, writes Erik Horne of NewsOK.com. Horne’s piece discusses Gibson’s success in Oklahoma City after being traded from Chicago and names the power forward as likely the team’s best option in free agency.
  • Although the Thunder are locked into the 21st overall pick in the draft, Tuesday night’s lottery may very well have implications for the team, as the draft ordering could affect which players are available on the trade market, writes Brett Dawson of NewsOK.com.
  • Marcus Smart, who played his college ball at Oklahoma State, would fit in very well with the Thunder, writes Berry Tramel of NewsOK.com. Smart remains under contract with Boston for one more year.
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