Smart was one of the last big names still available on the market, but his status as a restricted free agent always made it likely that a return to Boston was likely if the Celtics had the roster space available. Though he has major shortcomings as a shooter and floor general, the 24-year-old Smart has already carved out a reputation as one of the league's top perimeter defenders. With both Kyrie Irving (knee) and Terry Rozier seemingly on track to stay put in Boston for the start of the season, Smart will have difficultly carving out a much larger role after averaging just under 30 minutes per game in 2017-18. His status as a third or fourth option on offense when he's on the court in addition to his poor percentages make him better in real-life terms rather than the fantasy realm.
With the Raptors emerging Wednesday as the victors in the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes, it appears the Celtics will reserve the final opening on their 15-man roster for Smart. A restricted free agent, Smart hasn't gained much traction in negotiations with other teams this offseason and seems commitment to returning to the Celtics, who value his ability to defend both point guards and wings. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Smart and the Celtics are expected to agree to a four-year deal worth around $46-to-$50 million.
Smart heads into the offseason as a restricted free agent, and fresh off a Game 7 loss to the Cavaliers on Sunday, both Smart and general manager Danny Ainge expressed clear interest in one another during their exit interviews Monday. That's all well and good, but as time passes, finding a way to fit him onto the payroll might be an issue unless the Celtics would be willing to dip into the luxury tax.
Smart eked out four points (1-10 FG, 0-4 3Pt, 2-4 FT), seven assists, four rebounds and one steal across 31 minutes in Sunday's 87-79 ECF Game 7 loss to the Cavaliers.
Smart's ugly shooting line contributed to a stagnant Celtic offense that shot only 34 percent from the field. Youngsters Smart, Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown shot a combined 8-for-42. Sunday night was possibly Marcus Smart's last game in a Celtic uniform. He'll enter the off-season as a restricted free agent and knows Boston needs minutes to both develop Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and leverage returning stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. It remains to be seen if another NBA squad will lavish Smart with a difficult to match contract offer. On the positive, Smart displays game changing defensive skills, is versatile enough to play three different positions, and racks up a surprising amount of assists. But Smart continues to struggle with his shot, shooting 37 percent from the field during his four seasons in Boston.
Smart mustered 10 four points (4-7 FG, 0-3 3Pt, 2-2 FT), eight assists, one steal and one block across 21 minutes in Friday's 109-99 ECF Game 6 loss in Cleveland.
The Marcus Smart roller coaster received extra run during this lopsided loss on Cleveland. With Boston trailing for the last three quarters, coach Brad Stevens turned to Smart and Marcus Morris for major minutes, hoping to spark a comeback run that never quite materialized. Smart was his usual erratic self, with a breathtaking block of a LeBron James dunk attempt, three ugly turnovers, questionable shot selection, but eight impressive, team-leading assists. Smart and his teammates now return to Boston for a battle royale, winner-take-all Game 7 on the parquet floor. Look for Smart to again receive monster minutes for the injury decimated Celtics.
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