Is MARCUS SMART as Good as Gone?

The day that I and many Celtics fans have been dreading may soon be upon us.

Marcus Smart officially enters restricted free agency on July 1st. The deadline to extend him a qualifying offer is this Friday, June 29th. Since he’s an RFA, the Celtics can match any offer Smart decides to sign and bring him back. Wyc Grousbeck has recently said that he’s willing to dip into the luxury tax in order to keep last seasons core group of guys together. But I think that statement comes with a line. And I have a feeling someone is going to throw a serious bag at Marcus Smart, which might force the Celtics’ hand into letting him walk. So who are the contenders to land Smart?

If I had to choose one serious contender to land Smart out of the teams mentioned above, I would go with Indiana. They just unloaded Lance Stephenson, so the need for another guard is there. They’re a playoff team, which seems important to a competitor like Marcus Smart. And they can give him the contract he’s looking for ($12-13M). It makes too much sense.

I can’t say I would blame Smart for taking a contract from Indiana, especially if the qualifying offer he gets from Boston isn’t even close to their number. Loyalty goes a long way, but you also have to do what’s best for you in this business if you’re a player. I think if he even gets a meeting with the Pacers, he’s as good as gone.

Bash the guy for his offense all you want, but he is important to the success of this team. The level of intensity he brings on both ends of the court is infectious. The C’s would have an extremely hard time replacing him if he is to walk this Summer.

-Nick Cherico (@NickCherico2)

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