Unfortunately for some, the Boston Celtics had their season come to an end last night at the hands of one LeBron James. The loss put a damper on an otherwise impressive season after the C’s dealt with injuries that ended the seasons of Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, and rookie Daniel Theis. Injuries gave more prominent roles to players like Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart.
Even though the loss was less than ideal for Beantown, they have to move on to the offseason. Boston has most of their key players under contract for next season, but the aforementioned Marcus Smart is up for restricted free agency creating a tough decision for the Celtics. The C’s have room under the salary cap for Smart but re-signing him is going to require a lot of thought from Danny Ainge and the rest of the Celtics brass.
The former 6th overall pick has been extremely valuable for Boston by guarding multiple positions at a very high-level. His grit, tenacity, and competitiveness brings the green team a sense of toughness. Despite that fact, his offense is sub-par. He has playmaking ability and runs a great pick and roll with big man Al Horford, but his shooting is less than desirable. Smart has shot 36% from the field during his four-year-career. More specifically, Smart has shot 29.3% from beyond the arc, including 22.1% this postseason.
So is it the right move to sign Smart to a long term deal? After the Celtic’s shot just 17.9% from deep in game 7 last night, it is clear the Celtics need some shooters. Something Smart is not.
Still, the Celtics value Smart for the reasons already discussed so it would not be shocking in the slightest if Smart re-upped with Boston.
What makes the decision even harder is that the Celtics have to think about an extension for potential 2019-2020 free agent Kyrie Irving. They also have Tatum, Brown, Morris, and Rozier to think about extending.
Tatum and Brown’s contracts are not up for a while, but if they decide the extend Smart for the foreseeable future, his contract could potentially interfere with the Celtics ability to sign those guys due to salary cap restrictions. That becomes even more of an issue if Ainge and Co. fork over the $14+ million Smart reportedly wants.
Eventually it will come down to if a team signs Smart to an offer sheet (which will most likely happen). The Celtic’s could choose to match or let Smart walk. Personally, I think the move for the Celtics is to let Smart go. He is just too inept on the offensive end, which is where the C’s struggled most this season. They could just go into the free agent market and sign someone with a similar skill set for less than that $14 million. They could even potentially reunite with shooting guard Avery Bradley for cheap after he struggled in his first year not sporting the green and white.
If they do choose to keep Smart, Terry Rozier could be traded because Boston will not have the room to keep him as backup point guard.
Smart or no Smart the Celtic’s are going to be serious contenders for the NBA Title next season with Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving coming back fully healthy. That does not make this offseason any less interesting. With multiple picks and assets “Trader Danny” can make plenty of moves. It will definitely be fascinating to see what this C’s bench looks like in 2018-19