By Mark Murphy
LAS VEGAS -- Social media has shrunk the NBA to the size of a walk-in closet, maybe smaller, as the Marcus Smart team discovered Tuesday.
A photo, tweeted by The Athletic’s Michael Scotto, caught Smart and agent Happy Walters in the midst of a discussion with Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks. The huddle took place in an isolated upper section of the Thomas and Mack Center on Monday night.
Walters was watching today’s World Cup match between France and Belgium when he realized that Twitter was ablaze.
“We were at the top of the last five rows, amazing,” Walters said in bemused disbelief.
Team Smart met with representatives from two NBA teams Tuesday, and plans to meet with two more Wednesday.
Though considerable time has passed since last October, when the Celtics offered Smart a four-year extension worth more annually than the three-year, $33 million just signed by Utah’s Dante Exum, the Celtics guard’s camp would reportedly “consider” that offer now.
Smart’s appearance at the NBA Summer League has certainly been with business in mind. Though Walters said the Celtics guard needed a break after spending all of his time with his mother, Camellia, who is receiving treatment in Dallas for bone marrow cancer, he also needs some clarity on his financial future.
And right now, with the Celtics still resting on their $6.05 million qualifying offer, Smart and Walters are attempting to drum up offers in a market devoid of teams with salary cap space.
Smart’s defense-centric skill set and uniqueness are far better suited to playoff teams than lower-rung types in need of scoring and shooting, and he has not found that market.
A number of teams have contacted Walters about sign-and-trade possibilities, and that may be Smart’s best chance of landing the kind of contract he feels he deserves this summer.
But in the meantime, the Celtics continue to wait out all of these potential offers.
Smart’s arrival in the Cox Pavilion on Monday night served up a small slice of intrigue. Danny Ainge sat courtside with assistant general manager Mike Zarren and two of his youngest stars -- Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier -- as the Celtics blew out Charlotte in their third summer league game.
Smart, smiling and declining comment, showed up after the game, instead taking a front row seat to watch the Nuggets play the Bucks.
Ainge later walked behind Smart and had some fun playing with the latter’s hat.
That also appears to be the extent of the Celtics’ contact with Smart, who was angered when the team didn’t contact him or Walters over the first five days of free agency.
At the time, a source close to Smart told the Herald that lack of communication or an offer from the team changed his thinking about the qualifying offer - that it might not be such a bad idea to sign the offer, go into this season underpaid, and take his chances as an unrestricted free agent in a more lucrative market next summer.
Smart’s desire to be compensated at fair value remains strong in light of some of the contracts handed out to other players in his draft class, with Exum’s deal particularly eye-opening, considering the Utah guard’s injury-dominated career.
“The fans should understand that Marcus is not asking for a crazy amount,” said Walters.