Danny Ainge said a lot Wednesday afternoon, all while not saying much.
It appears the Celtics’ negotiations with Marcus Smart are a bit tense, with the guard reportedly “disgusted” that Boston was not in contact with him shortly after free agency opened.
But the Celtics — be it Ainge or head coach Brad Stevens — both have said they would like the restricted free agent back next season. And during media availability in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Ainge indicated yet again that they want Smart in green.
“Our priority remains the same,” Ainge said, via The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. “Our priority is still Marcus in free agency, and that’s where we are.”
Himmelsbach noted that Ainge was asked a pair of follow-up questions regarding Smart, but he declined to answer either.
On Monday, Smart and Ainge were seen having a playful, though brief, interaction at a summer league game. And even if tensions may be a bit high and Smart has met with other teams, it appears as though the C’s are intent on keeping him around and matching any offer he gets, even if it means going over the luxury tax threshold.
“We’re running a business and trying to win basketball games,” Ainge said, via Himmelsbach. “It’s my job to be fiscally responsible, but we will pay the tax. We plan on being a taxpayer, for sure.”
Smart has been an important sixth man for the Celtics since being drafted in 2014. Though his offensive numbers seldom are staggering, he plays quality defense and brings a good bit of energy to the floor.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports