The Boston Celtics could be close to a deal with free agent guard Marcus Smart, according to multiple reports. The Boston Herald's Mark Murphy has more on the talks between Celtics GM Danny Ainge and Smart's agent, Happy Waters:
The Celtics president, who hadn’t been in contact with Smart’s camp since the start of free agency on July 1, at least not in a substantive way, appears to finally be acting on that desire to bring this unique player back into the fold.
A source in the Smart camp said yesterday the sides have begun to speak “directly” about a new contract for the restricted free agent, who has had trouble fielding offers from other teams.
Though Smart was upset by the Celtics’ lack of serious contact once free agency began, at one point showing up at a summer league game just to exchange a passing hello with Ainge, he was also prepared to sign their one-year, $6.05 million qualifying offer and test unrestricted free agency in a more lucrative market next year.
But Smart started to soften his stance on what he considered an acceptable offer last week. That’s when the source told the Herald he would be willing to “consider” a deal closer to the four-year, $50 million extension offered by the Celtics last October. Smart turned that down, considering his value to be more in the $15 million annual range.
The Smart camp has clearly decided to drop its expectations, as evidenced by multiple reports yesterday that the sides are discussing a deal similar to the parameters of the Celtics’ original extension offer.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports via Twitter that Ainge and Waters are in the midst of "seriously engaged contract talks":
Celtics GM Danny Ainge and Happy Walters, the agent for restricted free agent guard Marcus Smart, are now seriously engaged in contract talks, league sources tell ESPN. Potential deal range is in the four-year, $46M-$50M range, sources tell ESPN. Talks ongoing.
“Our priority remains the same,” Ainge said last week. “Our priority is still Marcus [Smart] in free agency, and that’s where we are.”
The 24-year-old guard averaged 10.2 points, 4.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals for the Celtics in 54 games last season. He was a key spark off the Celtics' bench who finished many games with the starting unit because of his elite-level defense.
Smart was drafted by the Celtics with the No. 6 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
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