Marcus Smart 'Strongly Considered' Rejecting $77M Celtics Contract; Eyed $90M Deal

Doric SamSeptember 29, 2021

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart smiles during an interview at the Boston Celtics Media Day, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, in Canton, Mass. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
AP Photo/Mary Schwalm

Boston Celtics veteran guard Marcus Smart signed a four-year, $77 million contract extension this offseason to remain with the team.

But Smart recently revealed he was close to walking away from the franchise he's called home for his entire seven-year career. In an interview with Jay King of The Athletic, Smart said he "strongly considered" turning down the Celtics' contract offer in hopes of chasing a deal no less than $90 million.

"For me, it was, I’ve gotta get paid," Smart said. "I’ve gotta get mine. Everybody else in my position that I’ve dominated are getting theirs. And it’s like, I know I do way more than these guys. I’m on a better team as well. So it’s like, what’s going on?"

Smart said he was ready to test the free-agent market but changed his mind after having discussions with the people closest to him.

"I was actually willing to go straight into free agency and go to the market," Smart said. "But just talking to my circle, my family, my people and just understanding the pros versus the cons, the good versus the bad and things like that. What are you willing to sacrifice? What are you willing to gain?"

Smart ultimately decided the security of a long-term deal is too important to pass up. But he made it clear that his decision was strictly business-driven after he took everything into consideration.

"So it was a business decision," he continued. "Especially with the way everything’s going with COVID and everything, nothing’s for sure, nothing’s guaranteed. So I wanted to make sure I give myself a shot for another payday eventually by taking care of business on this one. So it was a business decision for me."

Smart, a two-time All-Defensive First Team selection, is considered one of the best backcourt defenders in the NBA. He averaged career highs of 13.1 points and 32.9 minutes last season, but a calf injury limited him to 48 games.

Smart upped his production in the postseason, averaging 17.8 points and 6.0 assists in a first-round loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

His new deal keeps him in Boston through the 2025-26 campaign.