With their season coming to an end with an agonising 87-79 loss in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Boston Celtics will now head into the summer with some big decisions to make.
The most important of which surrounds the future of Marcus Smart who will enter restricted free agency.
The Celtics chose not to offer him an extension on his rookie contract when he was eligible at the start of the campaign and will now have to decide if they can afford to keep him on their books.
Adding Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward last summer meant Boston didn't have the necessary cap space to tie Smart down to a long-term deal and that may well be the case again in the offseason.
According to ESPN's Jackie MacMullan, the point guard "was told that Boston might not be able -- or willing -- to afford the $12-14 million a year price tag that he reportedly has been seeking."
The 24-year-old addressed his future after the game and cast doubt about his chances of staying with the Celtics.
"To be honest, I'm worth more than 12-14 million," Smart told 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."
Smart endured a frustrating night against the Cavaliers in the deciding game last night as he shot just 1-of-10.
But many of his teammates came to his defence as they insisted that he's the heart of the team, per MacMullan.
"That's what people say," Smart said. "I'm not sure if you can put a price on that."
The tenacious defensive specialist was terrific on that end of the floor throughout the series but struggled mightily on the offensive end as he shot just 32 percent from the field and 22 percent from three-point range.
But after missing the start of the playoffs with a torn ligament in his thumb, Smart admitted that he's been dealing with pain ever since he returned.
"I don't like to make excuses but my thumb is killing me. My whole right hand hurts," he said.
Boston can match any offer the guard receives from another team but are unlikely to do so if a large deal is put on the table for him.
Per ESPN, Smart also could accept Boston's qualifying offer, play in 2018-19 for the $6.1 million, then become an unrestricted free agent the following summer, in 2019-20.
He's certainly a key figure of this talented young Celtics team but it'll be interesting to see what he chooses to do in the summer.
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