Celtics

Blakely: Kings preparing offer for Marcus Smart

Blakely: Kings preparing offer for Marcus Smart

LAS VEGAS – After striking out on landing Chicago’s Zach LaVine, the Sacramento Kings have their eyes set on trying to sign another restricted free agent – Boston’s Marcus Smart.

The 6-foot-4 guard has reportedly been upset and bothered by the lack of attention being paid to him by the Boston Celtics, well aware they will have a chance to match any offer received by Smart.

Sacramento’s interest stems in part from having a roster that has struggled mightily when it comes to defending shooters on various points on the floor.

Last season, the Kings were ranked 25th in the NBA in field goal percentage defense (.470) and 29th in three-point percentage defense (.377).

And with more and more versatile offensive players entering the league, the need for a do-it-all defender like Smart has apparently become more of a priority for the Kings franchise.

The Kings offered LaVine a four-year, $78 million contract which the Bulls matched almost immediately. Sacramento is unlikely to offer Smart such a lucrative deal, but it’s expected to be closer to the $12-14 million salary that Smart was reportedly seeking in a new deal.

And at that price tag, it is far from a given that the Celtics will match the offer.

If Smart signs an offer sheet with the Kings and Boston declines to match it, it will be a blow to a Celtics defense that was among the best in the NBA last season.

Smart was drafted with the sixth overall pick by Boston in the 2014 NBA draft.

In his four seasons in Boston, Smart has averaged 9.4 points, 3.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 36.0 percent from the field and 29.3 percent from 3-point range.

Shooting has been a clear weakness for Smart, but his defense and ability to make game-changing plays has made him a favorite of fans and the coaching staff who all greeted him enthusiastically when he showed up at the end of Boston’s 100-80 summer league win over Charlotte.

Smart said he was meeting with his agent Happy Walters.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Anything is Podable Episode Four: Building the Roster

Anything is Podable Episode Four: Building the Roster

Even with three All-Stars in Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce, Danny Ainge and the Celtics knew that, in order to win a championship, the team needed a strong supporting cast of role players.

Episode Four of NBC Sports Boston’s “Anything is Podable” takes a look at how Ainge constructed the rest of the roster and how one word, “ubuntu,” set the tone for a memorable season.

Giving the team a shooter off the bench, as well as another veteran presence in the locker room, Eddie House was perfect for the 2008 Celtics.

“I remember going to a practice when he was a young player,” said Ainge regarding House. “Just watching him shoot, and shoot, and just amazed at what a great shooter this kid was.”

“I saw him have his 56 and 60 back-to-back point games in the Pac-10 and it was amazing.”

Long a fan of House, Ainge went out and got his guy, but he wasn’t finished yet.

James Posey, a veteran wing who had experience both starting and coming off the bench, was nearing a deal with the Nets, but one call changed everything.

“I actually told my agent, I’ll just go to New Jersey,” said Posey. “Then Eddie House called me.”

House convinced Posey to spurn the Nets in favor of the Celtics, giving Boston another veteran off the pine.

With the roster taking shape, what the team needed now was an identity.

Ubuntu.

Mentioned to Doc Rivers at a trustee meeting at Marquette University, the word that means “I am who I am because of you,” became the team’s mantra.

“I looked this word up and I spent, no exaggeration, hours and days on this word,” said Rivers. “Everything about the word epitomized what we had to be.”

Ubuntu was the rallying cry of the 2008 Celtics and it all started with a Board of Trustees meeting at Marquette.

Anything is Podable is a ten-part series diving into the story of the 2008 Celtics and their championship season, with exclusive, never-before-heard interviews with team executives, former players, and media members.

Narrated by Kyle Draper, it’s the perfect way for Celtics fans to pass time this offseason and get excited for 2018-19, a season in which the Celtics have as good a chance at raising their 18th championship banner as they’ve had since that magical 2008 season.

Fans can subscribe to the podcast through the link below and check out the other nine episodes for a look at this exclusive series.

Report: Knicks given slight edge over Celtics as Kyrie's free-agent destination

Report: Knicks given slight edge over Celtics as Kyrie's free-agent destination

Those pesky Kyrie-to-the-Knicks rumors have been around even before Yahoo's Chris Mannix mentioned the Celtics were "scared" of Kyrie Irving heading there next summer. They picked up steam this week with another report of The Big Apple as a destination for Irving and Jimmy Butler to join forces.

Now, ESPN's NBA Forecast Panel gives the Knicks a slight edge over the Celtics to land Irving, 46.9 percent to  43.8 percent.

Here's part of the panel's explanation on ESPN's "The Jump": 

It would take some salary-cap machinations for New York to lure Irving to play close to where he grew up in West Orange, N.J. They would likely have to risk losing Kristaps Porzingis in free agency next summer by not giving him a big-money extension this season. 

There's also a potential pursuit of Kevin Durant in free agency next summer as the Knicks - playoff-less since 2013 and title-less for 45 years - make another attempt to spend their way back to relevance. 

Irving has made it clear he's not going to cost himself millions by signing an extension with the C's this season ("Contractually, financially, it just doesn’t make any sense”) and is headed to free agency, so, with training camp more than a month away, get used to a season full of questions about his future. And expect the Knicks speculation to heat up before the four C's-Knicks games (Oct. 20 and Feb. 6 in New York and Nov. 21 and Dec. 6 in Boston). 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE