Marc Smart wants more than $12 million-$14 million annually.
What will he do about it?
While no deal is imminent, two NBA officials whose teams have had some level of interest in Marcus Smart are getting a strong sense that he will sign the $6.1 million qualifying offer made by the Celtics and become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019.
The Celtics don’t seem to fear Smart taking his qualifying offer. They’ve shown a willingness to pay the luxury tax, but with their stacked roster, they could be over the tax line for several seasons in the foreseeable future. Keeping Smart at his $6,053,719 qualifying offer could allow Boston to avoid the tax this season and delay costly repeater-rate penalties down the line.
The downside: Smart would become an unrestricted free agent next summer and could leave unilaterally. That might be worth the risk – especially with Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier also at point guard (though they can also become free agents next summer).
Smart can pursue an offer sheet now, though potential suitors are dwindling. He could negotiate a multi-year deal with the Celtics, though that would require him taking enough of a discount they’d prefer it to him signing his qualifying offer.
So, Smart accepting the qualifying offer is far from his only option.
But it definitely appears increasingly likely.