Celtics

Smart likely to sign qualifying offer to return to Celtics

Smart likely to sign qualifying offer to return to Celtics

LAS VEGAS – While no deal is imminent, two NBA officials whose teams have had some level of interest in Marcus Smart are getting a strong sense that he will sign the $6.1 million qualifying offer made by the Celtics and become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019.

His restricted free agent status has been the main reason why teams have been reluctant to give Smart an offer sheet, fearful that the Celtics will match it, according to one official.

Recent reports indicate Smart has not been pleased by the lack of reaching out by the Celtics to get a deal done.

From the Celtics’ perspective, they have maintained throughout this process that they want to have Smart back next season, but they want to do it relative to what his market value is.

And right now, because he has yet to receive an offer sheet from another team, the Celtics are waiting for that shoe to drop and then proceed. The other issue for the Celtics is the luxury tax, something they would be extremely close to exceeding depending on how much they pay Smart.

Celtics ownership has shown in past years a willingness to exceed the luxury tax if it meant the difference between being a title contender or not.

And there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that having Smart back next season will strengthen Boston’s chances at getting to the NBA Finals. But the Celtics don’t want to start the repeater luxury-tax clock sooner than they have to, or significantly overpay, which is why they are just as eager as Smart and his camp are to see what another team is willing to pay for the 6-foot-4 guard's services.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE


 

Tacko's dunk contest assist comes up short for runner-up (again) Aaron Gordon

tacko_gordon_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Tacko's dunk contest assist comes up short for runner-up (again) Aaron Gordon

CHICAGO — Aaron Gordon was down to his final dunk, in need of a 49 or better to win his first slam dunk contest. 

He wanted to do something special, like dunk on a big man. 

Former Celtic Shaquille O'Neal was nearby, but he declined. 

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Gordon took a quick glimpse into the crowd and saw Boston's Tacko Fall nearby. 

Fall —all 7-foot-5 (without shoes) of him—stood in the paint for what was a crowd-razing dunk that many felt would secure Gordon his first slam dunk title. 

Then came back the scores. To the surprise of many, Gordon fell one point short, 48-47, to Miami's Derrick Jones Jr. 

After Gordon's dunk over Tacko, it was clear Jones had doubts about whether he was going to win. 

"He's a very tall human being," Jones said.of Tacko. "If I thought of it earlier, I would have did it."

Gordon added: "What are we doing? Who set the dunk contest up? Who set this up?" 

Then he explained both his disappointment in not winning, and his rationale for involving Tacko. 

"I wanted to jump over Shaq. He didn't want to do it," Gordon explained. "So, it was really for the people. Everybody was like, 'Tacko, Tacko!' He's the tallest dude in the gym. Dunking over somebody whose 7-5 and dunking it, it's no easy feat. What I get like a 47? Come on, man. What we doing?"

Fall is in Chicago this weekend participating in the NBA's Basketball Without Borders as a counselor, along with making some promotional appearances. He's also appeared at some of the All-Star events and more often than not, has received a louder ovation from fans than some of the players who will be playing in Sunday's All-Star Game. 

Aaron Gordon dunks over Tacko Fall in 2020 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Aaron Gordon dunks over Tacko Fall in 2020 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

After Jayson Tatum was eliminated in the first round of the 2020 NBA All-Star Skills Contest, it was assumed that the Boston Celtics' involvement in NBA All-Star Saturday night was finished.

Oh, how wrong we were.

The Celtics did get involved in one of the most epic and controversial Slam Dunk Contests in the history of the NBA. Or rather, one Celtic got involved: Tacko Fall.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

In double overtime of the contest, Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic came out to perform the final dunk of the evening. He beckoned for the 7-foot-5 rookie to come out onto the floor with one purpose. He wanted to dunk over Tacko. Fall was reluctant at first but ultimately agreed to do it.

And Gordon was able to clear Tacko and complete the dunk on his first try. Here's a look at the unbelievable moment, courtesy of the NBA's official Twitter account.

What an amazing dunk. There are very few players who could pull this off, but Gordon is obviously one of them.

Despite the epic dunk from Gordon, he was only awarded a 47 on the dunk and as a result, lost by a single point to Derrick Jones Jr. of the Miami Heat. It was the only dunk of Gordon's evening on which he didn't receive a max score of 50.

This dunk will surely be talked about in the coming days and Gordon's defeat will be scrutinized in another close and contentious NBA Dunk Contest.