How Celtics Are Using the Patriots’ Blueprint With Smart

Photo: AP

With the first wave of NBA free agency wrapped up, one of the best options remaining on the market is Marcus Smart.

One of the main priorities of the Celtics’ in the offseason was signing their two ‘big’ free agents, Smart and Aron Baynes. With Baynes resigning for two years, the attention turned to Smart. The chatter around the NBA is that Smart isn’t getting any offers from other teams, presumably because he is a point guard that can’t shoot in an era of the NBA defined by shooting.

The Celtics extended a 6.1 million dollar qualifying offer at the start of free agency in order to make him a restricted free agent. Still, it is puzzling why a guard known for his toughness and hustle hasn’t garnered at least one offer with so many teams around the NBA with money.

As the free agency period wears on, Smart’s camp has leaked more and more stories of him being frustrated and hurt by the Celtics for not giving his camp another offer. Smart is definitely not ‘hurt,’ or making that statement at all. His agent simply wants to have some sort of leverage in the situation, because he has none.

The Celtics have made it known that they plan to match every offer sheet Smart signs, within reason of course. No lottery team wants him. Teams like the Chicago Bulls, Sacramento Kings, and Atlanta Hawks don’t need to pour money into a player like Smart as they try to develop their young wings, and teams that are contending don’t have the salary cap to afford Smart.

Smart is probably looking around the league and seeing the money that some of the other players from his draft are getting. The Utah Jazz gave Dante Exum three years at 33 million. Aaron Gordon got four years and 80 million. Even Julius Randle got two years and $18 million. Smart may not be as good as some of those other players, but he doesn’t deserve just six million. Out of all the players on the market, his value might be the hardest to quantify with a price tag.

The Celtics are stealing another Boston team’s philosophy regarding free agency. When players like Devin McCourty and Dont’a Hightower hit free agency, the New England Patriots let their players test the market. They told them to find whatever offer they could, and come back to them, where the Patriots would decide how much they were willing to offer in comparison. 

Boston is letting Smart find whatever he wants to find so they can let the market dictate his terms. They don’t want to overpay for him, and the risk that a team will overpay for him is there but isn’t huge. Make no mistake, Smart will most likely be wearing green this fall. The question will be, what is the price for the former sixth overall pick’s services.

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