Celtics’ Smart likely to accept qualifying offer

It is starting to appear as if free-agent guard Marcus Smart will take a $6.1 million qualifying offer to return to the Boston Celtics, according to a report from NBC Sports Boston.

Should Smart go that route, he would become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season.

“His restricted free agent status has been the main reason why teams have been reluctant to give Smart an offer sheet, fearful that the Celtics will match it, according to one official,” reported A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

A recent report from the Boston Herald suggested Smart was unhappy that he had not heard from the Celtics early in free agency.

“He loves the Celtics, but with these crickets he’s hearing, he’s hurt and disgusted by it,” a source told the Herald. “He would have thought there would have been some kind of three to four-year deal from them to show they’re interested.

“But the qualifying offer is the only one he has received and there’s been no talk since free agency opened. He’s just hurt and frustrated that Danny [Ainge] hasn’t reached out. That’s the most discouraging part of this whole thing. The last contact was a few days before free agency started.”

Smart averaged 10.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists during the regular season. He underwent surgery in March for a torn ligament in his right thumb — an injury that appeared to hinder his shooting during the playoffs.

The Dallas Mavericks are reportedly among the teams to express an interest in Smart.