Marcus Smart

Kings Preparing Offer For Marcus Smart

The Kings are preparing an offer sheet to Celtics restricted free agent guard Marcus Smart, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston tweets.

The Kings have been aggressive in free agency, giving Bulls guard Zach LaVine a four-year, $78MM offer sheet that Chicago opted to match. They are apparently intent on upgrading their off-guard position.

It’s unlikely Smart will get an offer anywhere near that amount but it’s also less likely that Boston will match a large multi-year deal. Smart has been frustrated with the lack of offers and by the Celtics’ unwillingness to reach out to him to negotiate a new contract.

Blakely reported on Saturday that Smart was likely to accept the Celtics’ $6.1MM qualifying offer and try his luck as an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Kings’ interest in Smart could change that dynamic.

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe recently reported that teams are willing to give Smart about $9MM annually, but he is looking for much more.

Smart battled through injuries last season, appearing in 54 regular-season games while averaging 10.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 4.8 APG.

Marcus Smart Leaning Toward Taking QO?

Marcus Smart is likely to accept the Celtics’ $6.1MM qualifying offer and try his luck as an unrestricted free agent next year, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

Two officials from teams that were interested in signing Smart tell Blakely they now expect him to return to Boston for another season. One of them adds that Smart’s restricted status is the reason he hasn’t received an offer sheet, as teams are convinced the Celtics will match it.

Smart has been frustrated with the free agent market so far and by the Celtics’ unwillingness to reach out to him to negotiate a new contract. Boston’s front office would like to keep Smart, Blakely adds, but it wants to do so based on his market value.

The Celtics also have to keep an eye on the luxury tax, which they will be close to paying, depending on the size of Smart’s contract. Team officials are content to let Smart and his agent find someone willing to give him an offer sheet, then make their decision based on that.

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe reports that teams are willing to give Smart about $9MM annually, but he is looking for much more. A source close to Smart says he may wait until October to sign the QO from the Celtics, just in case another team decides to clear cap room in an effort to sign him. That same source adds that Smart feels betrayed by the Celtics and there’s a “95% chance” that he won’t sign a long-term deal with them this summer.

FA Rumors: Jerebko, Warriors, Thomas, Magic, Smart

After being waived by the Jazz today, Jonas Jerebko is already being eyed by the Warriors, among other teams, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, there’s strong mutual interest between Jerebko and Golden State, one of the teams the forward will consider upon clearing waivers.

There’s a possibility that Jerebko won’t make it to free agency, but in order to claim him, a team must have cap room or a trade exception worth $4.2MM. If Jerebko does become a free agent and wants to join the Warriors, he’ll have to settle for the minimum, since the Dubs already committed their taxpayer mid-level exception to DeMarcus Cousins, and won’t have access to the bi-annual exception.

Here are a few more notes and rumors on free agents from around the NBA:

  • According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), the word in Las Vegas is that the Magic discussed a potential deal with Isaiah Thomas, but are unlikely to complete an agreement at this time, preferring to maintain flexibility to see what other opportunities develop. As Kyler notes, a patient approach to free agency helped net the club Jonathon Simmons last summer after San Antonio eventually withdrew Simmons’ qualifying offer.
  • Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe provides an update on the Marcus Smart situation in Boston, confirming that Smart is frustrated by the negotiations – or lack thereof – with the Celtics so far. However, according to Himmelsbach, the C’s still consider Smart an “integral” part of their future and don’t view the current situation as a “standoff.” Himmelsbach also reports that there’s interest around the league in Smart at a price point of about $9MM per year, but he wants more, and could ultimately sign his $6MM qualifying offer if the offers don’t improve.
  • Tony Parker, who reached an agreement with the Hornets on Friday, tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link) that he received offers from the Spurs and Nuggets before deciding on Charlotte. I’d imagine those other offers didn’t come with the guarantee of as much money and/or as significant a role.
  • ESPN’s Kevin Pelton explores whether Carmelo Anthony – who is headed for a split with the Thunder – would fit best with the Lakers, Heat, or Rockets, three teams said to be interested in his services.

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Sixers, Fizdale

The Celtics extended their $6MM qualifying offer to Marcus Smart in the days leading up to free agency but haven’t been in touch since, Mark Murphy of The Boston Heralds writes. That’s left the 24-year-old guard feeling “hurt” and “disgusted.”

While the comments originating from a source close to Smart’s camp could be ripped straight from a Pre-MBA Negotiations 101 textbook, there could be truth to them considering that Smart just watched his significantly less accomplished draftmate Dante Exum net a three-year deal with the Jazz.

He’s just hurt and frustrated that Danny Ainge hasn’t reached out. That’s the most discouraging part of this whole thing. The last contact was a few days before free agency started,” the source said.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • The Sixers will be flush with cap space next summer, when a number of players signed to one-year deals come off their books. But, as Bobby Marks of ESPN notes, they may not get a large window to use that $42MM of projected space. In 2020, the club will be forced to pay up for restricted free agents Ben Simmons and Dario Saric.
  • While he’s always been one to play footloose and fancy free with the concept of traditional player positions, a vision Knicks boss David Fizdale shared with Marc Berman of The New York Post could be one of the most innovative yet. The head coach talked about playing Mitchell Robinson and Luke Kornet – both seven footers – together, with Kristaps Porzingis at the three and 6’9″ rookie Kevin Knox at the two. “Obviously, I have a crush on wingspan,” Fizdale said.
  • It’s official, Jonah Bolden, a 2017 draft-and-stash Sixers prospect, is officially on Philadelphia’s summer league roster, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets.

Atlantic Notes: Fizdale, Knox, Smart, Bayless

New coach David Fizdale believes the Knicks will be in position to have a huge impact on free agency next summer, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Mario Hezonja represents the Knicks’ only major signing this year, but Fizdale gave a hint of what the organization expects 12 months from now.

“We knew coming into this July there wasn’t a lot of money to spend,” he said. “We wanted to be real strategic with who we went after and if it fit the kind of guys we wanted to have here. I felt like we’ve done that and now we can just lock in, get into the group we have, start developing these guys, growing these guys, let them go through the ups and downs. And as we get our culture in place, [Kristaps Porzingis] gets healthy, we start moving into next summer, I really feel like we’ll have the bricks in place to make some big moves.”

Enes Kanter‘s $18.6MM salary will come off the books in 2019, and the $38MM still owed to Joakim Noah may have been stretched by then. In addition, Ron Baker, Emmanuel Mudiay and Troy Williams are all potential free agents.

There’s more news from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks first-rounder Kevin Knox is focused on conditioning prior to the start of summer league, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. There was concern about Knox’s energy level at Kentucky, and he admits some of it was justified. “I worked on my conditioning a lot this summer as far as getting in extra sprints, so I keep my motor up the whole game,” he said. “You’re going to get tired at some point during the game. It’s good we got a lot of guys that if I have to sub myself out so I can be on the court 100 percent playing with full energy.”
  • Dante Exum‘s new contract with the Jazz may complicate the Celtics‘ negotiations with Marcus Smart, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Although he believes it’s “highly likely” that Smart returns to Boston, the news that Exum received $33MM over three seasons could make contract talks more difficult. They were drafted back-to-back in 2014, but Smart has played 99 more games and his career scoring average is more than four points higher.
  • A buyout appears more likely than the stretch provision for the Sixers and Jerryd Bayless, according to Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Philadelphia has 15 players under contract and may need to open a roster spot for second-round pick Shake Milton or overseas prospect Jonah Bolden.

Free Agent Rumors: Neto, Wizards, J. Green, Parker

The Jazz, who have reached an agreement with Derrick Favors and are hoping to re-sign a couple other key free agents, met with point guard Raul Neto on Monday, league sources tell Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). Utah has expressed interest in bringing back RFA point guards Neto and Dante Exum.

With Favors returning, Thabo Sefolosha‘s salary guaranteed for 2018/19, and Grayson Allen now locked up to his rookie contract, the Jazz have 10 players on guaranteed deals so far for next season. If the club intends to keep its remaining three non-guaranteed players – Ekpe Udoh, Jonas Jerebko, and Royce O’Neale – that would leave just two open roster spots for Exum and Neto. I would guess that with Favors back, Udoh isn’t a lock to be retained, but we’ll see what the Jazz have in mind in the coming days.

Here are a few more free agent notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • After losing Mike Scott to the Clippers, the Wizards are on the lookout for frontcourt help and have been in touch with free agent forward Jeff Green, reports TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter link).
  • A report from French outlet L’Equipe (hat tip to Amico Hoops) suggests that Tony Parker isn’t necessarily a lock to return to the Spurs, with the Nuggets and Hornets among the “five or six” teams that could make a play for the veteran point guard.
  • While Marcus Smart‘s free agency could linger due to his restricted status, retaining him remains the Celtics‘ top offseason priority, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.
  • Former fifth overall pick Thomas Robinson didn’t play in the NBA last season, but he’s receiving some interest from teams this offseason, per Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. Kennedy tweets that the Bucks, Clippers, Wizards, and Suns have all expressed some level of interest in the veteran power forward.

Celtics Extend Qualifying Offers To Marcus Smart, Jabari Bird

The Celtics have tendered a qualifying offer to guard Marcus Smart, Keith Smith of RealGM tweets. The 24-year-old will now head into July as a restricted free agent, giving Boston first right of refusal in the event that he lands an offer sheet from another team.

Smart stands to draw interest on the market, although the number of teams with enough cap space to land him will be limited.

If Smart doesn’t like what he hears when free agency begins, he can sign the qualifying offer, worth $6MM for 2018/19, and then take another chance on the open market as an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

Smith adds in a subsequent tweet that Smart’s cap hold until he inks a new contract will be $13.6MM.

Smart averaged 10.2 points and 4.8 assists per game for the Celtics this season and has established himself as a gritty guard capable of contributing to a contender.

The Celtics have also extended a qualifying offer for two-way guard Jabari Bird.

Smith adds that the club decided not to tender a qualifying offer to Jonathan Gibson, freeing him to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Lowe’s Latest: James, Thunder, RFAs

The Lakers may not necessarily need a star in place to lure LeBron James, Zach Lowe of ESPN writes in a massive round-up of free agency notes. If James were to sign in Los Angeles alongside the team’s existing young stars and plethora of cap space they’d immediately become one of the league’s most appealing destinations for the next 12 months.

The comment comes in response to the notion that the Lakers are growing desperate to acquire Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs prior to James’ opt-in deadline tomorrow at 10:59pm CST. As things stand, both the Celtics and Sixers appear poised to offer better packages than what Lowe speculates L.A. might.

The King’s decision will have a ripple effect on the rest of the league, especially the Eastern Conference. If the Raptors, for example, were to watch James head to the West, it would make keeping their current core in place more appealing considering that their path to the Finals would be hypothetically easier.

Here’s a taste of the rest of Lowe’s findings:

  • If the Thunder can convince Paul George to return to Oklahoma City, it will be a monumental victory for general manager Sam Presti. If he leaves, the club would be forced to at least think about blowing the current squad up and trading Russell Westbrook.
  • Only six teams have notable amounts of potential cap space and half of those – the Hawks, Bulls and Kings – are telling teams that they’re interested in using that space to absorb bad contracts and pick up assets.
  • It’s unclear that there will be much of a market for Derrick Favors beyond, potentially the Mavs. It may make more sense for the big man to stay with the Jazz after finally starting to click alongside Rudy Gobert in Quin Snyder‘s offense last season.
  • The two best candidates to sign a qualifying offer this summer and approach next summer as unrestricted free agents are Celtics guard Marcus Smart and Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic. Lowe writes that Nurkic turned down a “rich” four-year extension last fall but might have a hard time finding a team willing to offer more than the mid-level exception this summer.
  • It stands to reason that Aaron Gordon, Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker will yield significant offers from the Magic, Bulls and Bucks  respectively but none of those teams have reason to offer a max contract right away.
  • The Pacers could make life harder for the Magic by putting together an offer in the $20MM range for Gordon. Lowe writes that there has been “mild discontent for years” about Gordon’s role in Orlando’s offense.
  • The Nuggets tried “feverishly” to trade for a second first-round pick last Thursday in the hopes of nabbing Zhaire Smith. Denver’s 2019 first-rounder was on the table in those talks.

For more free agency notes, including some potential contract extension candidates and the reasoning behind Nikola Jokic not getting a player option in the fifth year of his new deal with the Nuggets, check out the full feature at ESPN.

Western Rumors: Warriors, Hammon, Suns, Clippers

With no cap room available this summer, the mid-level exception represents the Warriors‘ best chance of signing a free agent who can become a part of the club’s rotation. However, as Anthony Slater of The Athletic details, it’s not a lock that Golden State will use its full taxpayer MLE, which figures to be worth approximately $5.3MM in 2018/19.

“It depends,” general manager Bob Myers said earlier this week when asked about the possibility of using that mid-level exception. “[Warriors owner] Joe [Lacob] has always shown a high level of aggressiveness. So if it makes sense for us and if it helps us win, he’s always said yes. But that’ll be the markers that have to be met.”

Because the Warriors project to be well over the luxury-tax threshold next season, a player signed using the MLE figures to cost exponentially more than $5.3MM due to the tax penalties. So if the Dubs do use the exception, they’ll want to do it on a player who they feel is worth a $15-20MM investment. Avery Bradley, Tyreke Evans, Trevor Ariza, Will Barton, and J.J. Redick are some potential targets mentioned by Slater, though those players figure to receive larger offers on the open market.

Here are a few more items from around the Western Conference:

  • The Spurs have promoted Becky Hammon to a role on the front of the team’s bench, the club announced on Wednesday in a press release. According to the club, Hammon will be taking over the role previously held by James Borrego, who was hired as the Hornets’ new head coach this spring.
  • The Suns will be on the lookout for point guard in free agency, but John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 doesn’t think Rajon Rondo or Marcus Smart are likely to end up in Phoenix, and essentially rules out the possibility of the team pursuing Milos Teodosic (Twitter links).
  • The Clippers have worked out several free agents who had been playing overseas, a source tells international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link). In addition to Chris Babb, whose workout was previously reported, the club also took a look at Quincy Miller, Victor Rudd, and others, according to Pick.
  • In a piece for The Oklahoman, Erik Horne takes a look at several potential luxury-tax scenarios for the Thunder, depending on whether players like Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, and Jerami Grant stay or go.

Bulls, Suns, Pacers Among Potential Marcus Smart Suitors?

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.