If forced to, the Celtics should sign Marcus Smart over Terry Rozier
It’s been an ongoing debate since the Avery Bradley days. We’ve all heard it. At one point or another, specifically this upcoming summer or the following, push is going to come to shove and the Celtics are going to have to make the difficult choice between signing Marcus Smart or Terry Rozier. The town simply isn’t big enough for the two of them. Rather, Wyc’s wallet isn’t. While the ascension of Terry Rozier from perceived draft reach to arguably the best backup PG in the league has been awesome to witness, it’s exactly the reason the Celtics can’t afford to keep him. This season, Terry has proven himself much more than capable of shouldering a bigger role while averaging 18.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game as a starter per NBC Sports Boston. He can shoot the 3, pass, defend, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s uber athletic. Could he be a byproduct of the Brad Stevens system? Maybe (see Evan Turner, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas etc). But that won’t stop teams from offering him big money in Summer ‘19. Meanwhile, injury riddled Marcus Smart will be lucky if another team elects to offer him the supposed $20 million dollars he’ll be asking for. He has yet to prove he can reliably hit the 3 ball like Terry can. And while he can certainly defend with the best of them, no team is going to shell out $20 mil (# based off early season rumors of this being his demand) for great defense, especially in the cash starved summer that’s about to hit where only 10 teams project to have around $10 mil in cap space. Will teams really try to shed dump salary to add Marcus Smart?
To give a for instance, Jeff Teague makes $19 mil, Jordan Clarkson $12.5, and Dennis Schroeder $17.5. Smart is the same age as Clarkson who got his money two summers ago. So, Smart, who can't shoot as well as Clarkson can, will probably fall somewhere in that 11-14 million dollar range. And that's before you consider the cash strapped market that is going to be the 2018 Summer.
Here’s the thing though - it doesn't matter. This is the best thing for the Celtics, ascensions and injuries aside. Marcus Smart is the glue. He’s the Draymond Green of guards. He’s gonna be the guy who switches between defending Lowry and DeRozen seamlessly in the ECF. He’s gonna be playing point guard because he’s a better passer than Terry. And, he’s going to make the defensive plays we all know and love him for that win games.
This is not to bash Terry at all. I’ve already expressed how phenomenal of a piece he is. He’s especially important when we consider next year too. If the Celtics do sign Smart and have both him and Terry - how formidable will the C's be with an 11 man core of Kyrie, Jaylen, Hayward, Tatum, Al, Smart, Terry, Morris, Theis, Baynes, and a pick? Finally healthy, they’ll be the clear cut favorites in the East barring a LeBron jump to Philly.
Not to mention, how many shots will there really be to go around once he's Hayward's healthy again?
So here’s the thing, if Danny thinks that he can save 5+ mil in resigning Smart over Terry I think he pulls the trigger on Smart because luxury tax. Now if Smart opts for a short term deal to chase money next summer, then things get dicey. But if I had to guess where Danny’s head is at long term, it’s with Smart as the leader of the second unit and letting Terry, deservedly so, go chase big money to become the guy elsewhere.
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