Marcus Smart and the Boston Celtics will take on Milwaukee in the first round of the NBA playoffs while Jawun Evans’ Clippers narrowly missed the playoffs in the west and Tony Allen finished the season as a free agent. Here is a year-in-review for each player and a look ahead to what this offseason could hold.
Smart averaged 10.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and a career high 4.8 assists for the year. While those numbers don’t seem overly impressive for a guy who averaged 29.9 minutes a night, Smart brings Boston the kinds of hustle plays that win games. Show me another guy who can play the defending champs, shoot 0-7 from the field and still wind up with a +15 plus/minus. Smart took two charges in the final 7.3 seconds of a game against Houston to nab a come-from-behind win. He does whatever it takes.
The most Marcus Smart ending you'll ever see. pic.twitter.com/9nt1zDgCQP— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 29, 2017
He has only played in 54 games this season due to injury, but Boston will be more than happy to have him back for the second round should they make it there. Injuries to Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward have tested Boston’s depth and Smart coming back in time for the second round will give the Celtics a punchers chance against a good Philadelphia 76ers team.
As for this summer, Boston will have some tough decisions to make regarding Smart. The Celtics will be over the cap already with max contract players in Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford. Smart will be a restricted free agent, meaning that Boston can match any offer he gets. Because Boston owns his bird rights, they can go over the cap to sign him. However, breakout point guard Terry Rozier will hit restricted free agency next summer with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to follow. All three of them will commend big bucks and Boston will not be willing to go far over the luxury tax to keep all of them. They will likely have to decide between paying Smart this summer or paying Rozier next summer.
The rook played in 48 games this year for the Los Angeles Clippers and averaged a respectable 16.2 minutes per game. Jawun averaged 4.8 points, 2.1 assists and 1.8 boards.
It was a sort of tumultuous year in Clipper land as the franchise dealt with a myriad of injures throughout the year and traded away cornerstone Blake Griffin. Injuries to guards Patrick Beverly, Austin Rivers and Milos Teodosic gave Jawun great opportunities for quality minutes throughout the year. Evans suffered an injury of his own and missed much of the last half of the regular season. The rookie guard underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia and is expected to be healthy for training camp next summer in what projects to be a crowded point guard room in L.A. Evans is owed $1.37 million next year.
Enjoy this nifty assist from Jawun ⬇️.
It's SHOW TIME! Jawun Evans takes it away and dishes it between his legs! pic.twitter.com/ujUrU69yr8— NBA Philippines (@NBA_Philippines) January 14, 2018
Allen had a rough year after setting career lows across the board. The grindfather averaged just 12.4 minutes in 22 games with the New Orleans Pelicans this season. A leg injury effectively ended his season as the Pelicans traded him to the Bulls who then opted to release him. Allen averaged 4.7 points, 2.1 rebounds and 0.4 assists for the year.
After 13 NBA seasons and at age 36 and coming off a leg injury, it might be just about time for Allen to hang them up. Personally, I’d like to see him get one more year back in Memphis. The Grizzlies finished with the NBA’s second worst record and it wouldn’t hurt to bring on an experienced vet like Allen. He is a great locker room guy and spent most of his career with Memphis. Something tells me that Memphis wouldn’t mind having him back either.
Whether or not Tony Allen will retire at seasons end remains to be seen, but at least he has the 10 year anniversary of his championship with Boston Celtics to celebrate with former teammates this summer.