Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart is set to be a restricted free agent this offseason, and after Sunday night's 87-79 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, he evaluated what he believes his value should be on the market.
"To be honest, I'm worth more than $12-14 million," Smart told Jackie MacMullan of ESPN. "Just for the things I do on the court that don't show up on the stat sheet. You don't find guys like that. I always leave everything on the court, every game. Tell me how many other players can say that."
"That's what people say," Smart added after he was told that some of his teammates called him the heart of the team. "I'm not sure if you can put a price on that."
Boston will have the option to make a qualifying offer to Smart this offseason for around $6.1 million and can then match any offer, though "it's unlikely they will do so if the numbers climb too high," per MacMullan.
"Boston discussed an extension with its gritty defensive specialist, team sources said, but the dollar figures were too far apart. The Celtics are resigned that Smart will opt for a bigger payday elsewhere instead of taking a hometown discount."
Indeed, Smart has three options this summer. He can play the 2018-19 season under his qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent in a year; he can seek to take the highest offer on the market; or he can sign a long-term extension in Boston, though likely one below his market value.
The Celtics won't have the cap space to keep Smart on a lucrative deal.
Gordon Hayward is due $31.2 million next season. Al Horford will make $28.9 million next year and will have a player option ahead of the 2019-20 year, meaning he could opt out and become a free agent. Kyrie Irving will make $20 million next season and like Horford will have a player option after that and will almost assuredly opt out. Terry Rozier will hit restricted free agency next summer.
And then there's Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, who will eventually require gigantic long-term extensions. For as loaded as the Celtics will be next season, with Irving and Hayward returning from injury, keeping their core together long term will be financially impossible unless a number of players take significant discounts.
There are major decisions looming, in other words, with Smart the first one on the docket this offseason.