By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
After a public, sometimes slightly contentious dispute over a long-term deal, it appears that Marcus Smart and the Boston Celtics are on the verge of coming to an agreement. Smart’s agent, Happy Walters, and Celtics president of basketball ops Danny Ainge are “seriously engaged” in talks for a four-year deal that would pay the restricted free agent guard $46-50 million, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Smart had previously said he believed he was worth more than $14 million per season, and reportedly drew some interest from other teams but never got an offer for a deal in that range. If an agreement is reached, the C’s would give Smart a significant pay bump over the $6 million qualifying offer extended to him in June.
The 24-year-old Smart has played 261 games in four seasons with the Celtics, averaging 9.4 points, 3.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 1.2 three-pointers, and 1.5 steals per game. He still has plenty of room for improvement on offense, particularly shooting the basketball, but has earned praise for his relentless defense and competitiveness on the court.
The deal represents a concession from Smart and Walters on the guard’s actual AAV, compared to the perceived amount. Smart won’t get the kind of raise he was hoping for, but he’ll definitely make more per season ($11.5-12.5 million) than Dante Exum’s $11 million AAV with the Utah Jazz.
Smart is the kind of role player that winning teams need, and the Celtics also don’t have great long-term certainty at point guard. If and when Ainge locks him in for the next four years, he’ll reaffirm his confidence that Smart can get even better. He should continue to make valuable plays for the C’s and get plenty of opportunities to do so in the playoffs, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
UPDATE (Wednesday, 1:05 p.m.): According to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, talks between the Celtics and Smart are “going in the right direction” and a deal could be finalized within a week.
UPDATE (Wednesday, 2:10 p.m.): Yahoo! Sports’ Jordan Schultz later tweeted that the deal is being finalized and will be in the $48-52 million range.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.
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