Update 06/03/2021 : Trade Marcus Smart.

Update 09/22/2020 : Disregard all of the below. Pay Marcus Smart more.

Update 07/20/2018 : Despite Marcus Smart getting his contract, I still don’t like the deal.

Marcus Smart can stay in Boston next year if he wants to. In fact, many think he should. $6.1m per year is nothing to sneeze at, especially given the volatility/scarcity in the backup point guard market. Should the Celtics choose not to go above the minimum bid, they can still match any offer put in on Smart from other teams, over the $6.1m threshold.

In Smart’s mind though, this is $7.9m below the value he provides to an NBA franchise. The same Marcus Smart, mind you, who against Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals was 7 of 31 from 3PT (23%), 21 of 64 in FG’s made (33%), and averaged 9 points per game.

“To be honest, I’m worth more than 12–14 million,” …. “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.” — ESPN.com

Maybe Marcus is brooding over what he feels is due to him. During the Cleveland series he was matched up against the league’s third highest paid backup point guard, and he out-played him (barely).

The backup point guard in question is Jordan Clarkson. He’s making $11.5m this year and close to $12.5m next year. Tony Parker ($15.4m) and Eric Gordon ($12.9m) are the only other backup point guards that claim higher paychecks.

Clarkson’s stats in the Eastern Conference Finals: 6 of 18 from 3PT (33%), 13 of 43 in FG’s made (30%), and averaged 5.5 points per game.

If you look at both Smart and Clarkson’s playoff performance as a whole, up until the end of the Eastern Conference Finals you have:

Smart: 15 of 68 from 3PT (22%). 48 of 143 in FG’s made (34%).
Clarkson: 11 of 43 from 3PT (26%). 34 of 110 in FG’s made (31%).

On the defensive/facilitating end, Marcus certainly has a case that his input holds value. Here’s a similar comparison, and keep in mind Marcus missed the first four games of the post-season due to his thumb injury.

Smart: 14 offensive rebounds, 42 defensive rebounds, 80 assists, 26 steals.
Clarkson: 8 offensive rebounds, 20 defensive rebounds, 12 assists, 2 steals.

If you look across the league at back-up point guards, here’s the salary breakdown for the 2017/18 season.

  • Quinn Cook (Golden State): $90k
  • Milos Teodosic (LA Clippers): $6.0m
  • Isaiah Thomas (LA Lakers): $6.3m
  • Frank Mason III (Sacramento Kings): $1.2m
  • Isaiah Whitehead (Brooklyn Nets): $1.3m
  • Trey Burke (NY Knicks): $784k
  • Markelle Fultz (Philadelphia 76ers): $7.0m
  • Delon Wright (Toronto Raptors): $1.6m
  • Jerian Grant (Chicago Bulls): $1.7m
  • Jordan Clarkson (Cleveland Cavaliers): $11.5m
  • Jameer Nelson (Detroit Pistons): $2.3m
  • Cory Joseph (Indiana Pacers): $7.6m
  • Brandon Jennings (Milwaukee Bucks): $380k
  • JJ Barea (Dallas Mavericks): $3.9m
  • Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets): $12.9m
  • Mario Chalmers (Memphis Grizzlies): $2.1m
  • Ian Clark (New Orleans Pelicans): $1.6m
  • Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs): $15.4m
  • Malcolm Delaney (Atlanta Hawks): $2.5m
  • Michael Carter-Williams (Charlotte Hornets): $2.7m
  • Derrick Walton Jr. (Miami Heat): $75k
  • Shelvin Mack (Orlando Magic): $6.0m
  • Ty Lawson (Washington Wizards): $120k
  • Devin Harris (Denver Nuggets): $4.4m
  • Tyrus Jones (Minnesota Timberwolves): $1.5m
  • Raymond Felton (Oklahoma City Thunder): $2.3m
  • Shabazz Napier (Portland Trail Blazers): $2.4m
  • Dante Exum (Utah Jazz): $4.9m

Marcus Smart asking for $12–14m not just elevates him amongst his other backup point guards, but big-time NBA veterans like: Taj Gibson ($14m, 63% FG made this year in post-season, 50.6% in his career), JR Smith ($13.7m, NBA championship, Sixth-Man of the Year), Zach Randolph ($12m, 47.1% career FG’s), Tyson Chandler ($13m, NBA Championship, NBA All-Star, NBA Defensive Player of the Year), etc.

Stats aside, Marcus Smart comes with occasional suspensions and injuries. His fiery on-court demeanor sometimes boils over to off-the-court mistakes. For someone asking to be paid in the top 90% of back-up point guards, this doesn’t work in his favor. Not to mention his ability to pick poor shot selections in crucial parts of the game…

Marcus has been a great Celtic, and he’s invigorated the Boston Garden on many occasions. If he’s set on earning his $12–14m, it’s not going to happen in Boston, especially when they get Kyrie Irving back ($20m) and an affordable Terry Rozier ($3m) who can come off the bench.