LeBron James likely will dominate NBA free agency talk over the summer, but The King hardly is the only noteworthy player who will be available on the open market in the offseason.
Marcus Smart, currently the longest-tenured member of the Boston Celtics, also will be a free agent once the 2017-18 season comes to a close. While Smart isn’t a max-contract type of player, his steady progression and unmatched intangibles likely will result in a large number of suitors.
While Celtics fans surely are hoping the tenacious guard would be open to a hometown discount in order to stay in Boston, don’t expect the 24-year-old to be keen on the idea. In a recent interview on ESPN’s “The Hoop Collective” podcast, Jackie MacMullan explained where she expects Smart’s head to be at once he hits free agency.
“I’ve talked to lots of people around the Celtics and around the league about Marcus Smart,” MacMullan said, as transcribed by UPROXX. “If Marcus Smart was willing to take a — let’s say Sacramento (Kings) for argument’s sake or another team that isn’t quite good and they offer him $14 million a year and the Celtics say, ‘We can’t pay you that. But we’ll pay you $12 (million).’ My question to them was will Marcus Smart take it because they’re contending, he’s a cult hero in town. Every one of them said, ‘Hell no, he’s going for the money.’ I’ve never asked him this question. But that’s the impression I get. You can’t blame young guys who want to go out to the highest bidder and thinks he should be a starter and he’s not going to be one in Boston for many years to come.”
As MacMullan noted, no one could blame Smart for going to the highest bidder, and if he continues to thrive in the postseason for the Celtics, other teams around the league likely will become more willing to offer him a generous deal. Although the C’s surely would love to keep Smart in town for years to come, it’s starting to seem like they’ll face stiff competition in order to do so.
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