Danny Ainge: Marcus Smart is ‘top priority’ for Celtics

Kurt Helin
NBC Sports

LAS VEGAS —  Right now, everybody is waiting.

At Summer League, the buzz is that the Sacramento Kings are ready to make an offer to Marcus Smart. Which leads to two questions: At what number? And, will the Celtics match?

Enter Danny Ainge, via Brian Robb of the Boston Sports Journal.



All of this ties in. Boston expects to be a tax payer, but if they can put off crossing that line for one more season — delaying the repeater tax that will inevitably come — all the better. The Celtics have $112.3 in committed salary for next season, the luxury tax line is $123.7. The sense in Las Vegas is that the Celtics would still match a $12 million a year offer and make other moves during the season to get under the tax line, but if the Kings come in at $15 million or so, Boston will let him walk.

Ainge is going to say things that make it sound like he will match any offer, trying to scare off the Kings (or any other suitor). Do the Kings buy into it, or do they come in big? Sacramento thought they did with Zach LaVine, but the Bulls matched. Boston would LOVE it if Smart played for the qualifying offer and became an unrestricted free agent in a year.

The elite defensive wing is one of the few quality free agents still on the market, and where he lands is still up in the air.

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