Lost in the free agency shuffle, Smart might have to settle for less

As big-name moves have begun to slow in the second day of the 2018 NBA Summer free agency period, the trickle-down effects of those moves are starting to eat up what little free cap space remains.

After LeBron James joined the Los Angeles Lakers, eliminating potential suitors across the league, bit those jilted teams and the Lakers alike have made moves that have already altered the likelihood of players lower on the list of big-name free agents getting even a fraction of the money they likely hoped for this summer.

The Philadelphia 76ers have re-signed JJ Redick, and for reasons unclear at the moment, the Lakers' move to renounce Julius Randle in favor of the corpse of Rajon Rondo has put even more pressure on players like Marcus Smart to find a deal of any amount above the minimum offer currently on the table.

For Smart, that's his qualifying offer of just over $6 million, and the only free agent Boston fans should be worrying about. Currently, only the Chicago Bulls ($27 million), Atlanta Hawks ($20 million), Sacramento Kings ($17 million), Indiana Pacers ($13 million), 76ers (down to just $13 million), and Lakers (down to $13 million as well) have enough money to significantly outmatch a full Mid-Level Exception (valued at $8.6 million this season).

The Los Angeles Clippers could get to about $10 million in cap space through renouncing Patrick Beverley or Milos Teodosic, but that's unlikely to happen, and Chicago and Atlanta have both noted they don't plan on making significant signings until next summer, reserving their cap space to take on money and assets off one of the league's many overburdened teams.

Realistically, this narrows the field to the Kings, Pacers, 76ers, and Lakers, and none of those teams seems very likely to blow what remains of their cap on Marcus. While the Lakers might morph into fringe contenders now that they have LeBron, the fact they renounced a player now likely higher on the free agency pecking order in Randle likely signals a lack of interest in Smart, given this deal was done to bring Rondo onto a team already in need of shooting.
Similarly, after bringing on Doug McDermott for seven million dollars a year, it seems unlikely the Pacers next move would be to spend even more on Smart with only nine players on guaranteed money, meaning at very least, the team would need to spend that remaining $13 million on four more players by the start of the regular season. While it's possible they could fill out the roster with minimum deals, that would mean letting go of Darren Collison and elevating Cory Joseph, Smart, or a currently-unsigned veteran to start at the one, which would surprise me considerably.

The Sixers need shooting after losing Marco Belinelli, so while Smart might be on their list, it seems pretty unlikely that organization will be picking up the phone for Marcus before making many more calls. This leaves the Kings, and while they certainly are the one team out there still very able to snipe Smart, to date they have shown zero interest in doing so.

There's still lots of time left for things to change, and sign-and-trades can always offset the best-laid efforts to use cap space as a means of predicting teams' offseason plans - but for fans of Marcus Smart in Boston, it's looking like you'll be seeing him back in green for at least another season, unless something unexpected shakes loose.
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Image: Charles Krupa/AP
Cap info: Spotrac and Early Bird Writes
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