Celtics Rumors: Marcus Smart Is Boston's 'Top Priority' in Free Agency

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2018

BOSTON, MA - MAY 27: Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics dribbles against the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game Seven of the 2018 NBA Eastern Conference Finals  at TD Garden on May 27, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Marcus Smart remains a restricted free agent, but the Boston Celtics reportedly don't want to let him get away.

According to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, "Smart's free agency could linger for a while as he waits for a big-money offer. But have been hearing that he absolutely remains the Cs' top priority of the offseason."

Smart, 24, helped the Celtics reach the Eastern Conference Finals with his tenacious defense. While his counting stats don't jump off the page—he averaged 10.2 points, 4.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting only 30.1 percent from three—Smart's ability to guard multiple positions was huge for a Celtics team that thrived on its defense. 

With Smart on the court, Boston limited opponents to a meager 99.4 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com. When he sat, that number rose to 103.0. 

Smart's impact on the Celtics defense is one of the reasons they'll likely make a strong push to keep him. And if he improves his perimeter shooting, he'll be an excellent three-and-D option capable of running the point and guarding nearly every position in a pinch. 

Given the shrinking number of teams with available cap space, Smart may decide to sign his $6 million qualifying offer and hit unrestricted free agency next year, when the cap will rise and a number of teams should have more money to spend. 

Unless an opposing team makes him a strong offer, Smart figures to be back in Boston next year one way or another.

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