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"They've been very willing to pay for teams that have a chance", Ainge said when asked about there being enough money in the bank for the Celtics to re-sign Smart.

In addition to the difficulty of predicting when we should expect to see the 2017 NBA All-Star ready to compete at a high level, there's the uncertainty of foreseeing when Gordon will be mentally prepared to confidently push his body like he did prior to the injury.

Teammate Kyrie Irving is expected to make $20 Million next season, and the hope is that Marcus Smart will take home town discount to further his team's Championship prospects.

Smart said it was Ainge who has given him confidence he'll be back in Boston next season.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge explained Irving's surprising absence from the Celtics' 87-79 Game 7 loss to the Cavaliers, saying the injured guard missed the tilt because he had deviated septum surgery. If this playoff run and all the series of the playoffs didn't show that, then I don't know what does.

"I got a lot to think about", he said. "We've just established that me being here is a big deal and that's what (I) want as well".

"Danny emphasises all the time how much he loves me as a player and emphasised how much they want me here", Smart said. Both Rozier and Smart, meanwhile, expressed a desire to remain in Boston after their exit interviews, and both are well-loved competitors within the organization. "I been here for four years; my heart's here". "But in this league, you never know".

Given Smart's penchant for clutch defensive stops, however, Ainge hinted that Smart's role may be something that the Celtics are willing to spend for given how close this team seems to be to legitimately competing for an National Basketball Association title.

"Marcus had a terrific year", he said.

Smart could see modest offers from contenders in the neighborhood of the midlevel exception, but it's hard to see a less-competitive team splurging on a player who impacts winning but remains a career 36 percent shooter.

"And I also remember how great they are and how young they are still".

The Celtics will now take a short break before the offseason begins at the start of July when teams can make trades or hold talks with free agents. "Gordon is progressing well", Ainge said.


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