Marcus Smart's new contract may be front-loaded

Marcus Smart is now in serious negotiations with the Boston Celtics on a new contract. The deal may end up in the 46-50 million range over four years.

It has also been reported that this contract could be front-loaded, meaning the yearly salary would decrease progressively over the period of the deal. This would appear to have everything to do about the NBA luxury tax and the repeater tax.

With an average yearly salary of roughly 12 million, this would almost certainly put the Celtics above the luxury tax threshold this season. Major team payouts result from an organization having to pay the repeater tax. This goes into effect if a team pays the luxury tax in three of the past four seasons.

An NBA team can avoid paying the repeater tax if it goes into luxury-tax territory only every other year, or if they pay it two years in a row and then go under the luxury-tax line two years in a row. If a team pays big money to its players - then pays the luxury tax - and is forced to additionally pay the repeater tax, we can quickly see why teams want to avoid the repeater tax.

The key season for Boston may be 2020-21. Gordon Hayward is set to earn 34.2 million that season and has a player option for that year. Kyrie Irving has a player option for 2019-20 and would be set for a max deal the next season, 2020-21. Jaylen Brown may also be set for a major payday in 2020-21 on a new contract.

If Marcus does end up with a four-year contract, front-loading it might just work. Putting well over one-half of the money into the first two years could ease the financial burden on Boston for that critical 2020-21 season. Also, Al Horford has a player option for 2019-20, and if he stays, it may behoove the Celtics to bring him back at a reduced rate, clearing more available money for 2020-21.

Avoiding the luxury tax this season and next seems, right now, a pipe dream. To avoid the repeater tax, they can not go over the luxury tax line in the third year. Danny Ainge is a planner and a plotter. He is already thinking about that third season, but Boston just has such a wealth of talent, something will have to give. We just don't know what it will be.

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Photo via Matt Stone/Boston Herald