Marcus Smart was expected to receive a major pay raise this offseason in NBA free agency, but the market has not yet developed for him. With all the big names signed, Smart is viewed as one of the best available. His market isn’t heating up too much, but there are a couple of teams interested in signing him.
According to a report from Jordan Schultz of Yahoo! Sports, the Memphis Grizzlies and Brooklyn Nets are interested in acquiring Smart via a sign-and-trade from the Boston Celtics.
Both teams could be intriguing landing spots for Smart. Memphis and Brooklyn are both in rebuilding phases, which Smart would fit well into. He would also bring experience and the hard-nosed presence that young teams need for their young players to learn from.
Boston has also been interested in bringing Smart back, but they may have burned that bridge. Smart is unhappy with the lack of aggressiveness that the Celtics have shown in trying to retain him. He also hasn’t liked the offers that they have tried to get him to agree to.
Last season with the Celtics, Smart was a part of a team that made a run all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston was able to make that run even without star point guard Kyrie Irving and star forward Gordon Hayward on the court.
During a recent interview with The Athletic, Celtics’ general manager Danny Ainge did state that bringing Smart back is still a priority for the team.
“We’re all here watching all the teams play in the summer league, watching different guys work out. But our priority remains the same. Our priority is still Marcus in free agency, and that’s where we are.”
Losing Smart would be a big blow for the Celtics. He was a major key off the bench and provided toughness for the second unit. His scoring was not efficient, but he is the type of glue player that every championship contender needs to have on their roster.
Smart ended up averaging 10.2 points per game to go along with 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds. He shot 36.7 percent from the floor overall and knocked down 30.1 percent from behind the three-point arc.
There has been a growing belief that Smart could play the 2018-19 NBA season with the Celtics on the qualifying offer. That would allow him to test free agency again next offseason. He would be an unrestricted free agent, which would not allow Boston to match any offers that he agrees to sign.
Expect to hear more about Smart in the coming week or two. Boston doesn’t seem likely to end up losing him, but there are teams that could offer Smart the kind of deal that he wants. If Memphis or Brooklyn decides to overpay, Boston might have to let him walk.