Free agency is nearly upon us and the Phoenix Suns have money to spend. One player they should not consider is Marcus Smart.
After renouncing the rights to Alex Len and Elfrid Payton, the Suns have cleared roughly $10 million in cap space for free agency. Marcus Smart is an intriguing option to slot into a combo guard role for the Phoenix Suns. He hustles, plays tough defense, and is a capable distributor. But if you ask Smart, he is worth all of the Suns’ cap space and more.
It would be irresponsible for the Phoenix Suns to meet Marcus Smart’s contract expectations without a plan in mind to cover the flaws in his game. Even with all of of the value Smart brings on the defensive side of the ball, he falls back by matching it with severe shooting inefficiency at the other end.
The difficult part in committing so much money to Smart is that he has never shot above 36% from the field in his career – the third worst shooting percentage for any player since 1980 with 1,000 FGA’s or more. His percentage drops down to under 30% from 3 for his career, and on an egregious 4.2 attempts per game.
One positive on the offensive side of the ball is that Smart has increased his assist numbers each year, up to 4.8 per game this past season.
The other reason for concern when acquiring Smart is the system he came from in Boston. Brad Stevens is known for getting the absolute most out of his players. So why should Phoenix expect to get significantly more out of Smart? This past season Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, and Isiah Thomas all left Boston and all had significantly worse seasons than their previous year.
One example to look to that highlights Brad Stevens defensive scheme is Kyrie Irving‘s improvement on that side of the ball. After being known for being a sub-par defender in Cleveland, Irving made significant strides under Stevens. His defensive rating went from 109.1 in 2016-17 season to 103.6 in 2017-18. To put that in perspective, Irving would have graded as the best defensive player on the Suns to play 10 plus games.
Smart joining the Phoenix Suns would give them many skills that no one on the team currently has. Unfortunately, he has downsides that the Suns are not currently equipped to overcome. He grades out as one of the worst shooters in the league while playing for a good team. He’s also asking for a higher than almost any player the Suns currently have.
There too is the risk of reduced production when leaving Boston’s system.
The Boston Celtics have offered Smart his qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent. The Suns would have to attract Smart and outbid the Celtics. Then they’d have to wait up to three days for anything to become official. Unless Smart is willing to come down on his price, the Phoenix Suns should avoid signing him.