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Nets interested in getting (Marcus) Smart?

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It started with a picture from Las Vegas, tweeted by The Athletic’s Michael Scotto...

Now, it could all be innocent, casual, of course, as Irina Pavlova, the Nets former executive tweeted. “Sometimes a conversation is just a conversation,” she noted. HA!

Then, other things happened. Adam Himmesbach of the Boston Globe tweeted that yes, indeed, Smart and his agent, Happy Walters, are taking meetings in Las Vegas.

Himmelsbach didn’t name the teams who Smart and his peeps were meeting, but from Scotto’s tweet the Nets would sure seem to qualify.

As for the range of money mentioned by Himmebach, that’s a little lower than what Smart has told people he thinks he’s worth.

“To be honest, I’m worth more than $12-$14 million,” Smart told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan in late May. “Just for the things I do on the court that don’t show up on the stat sheet. You don’t find guys like that. I always leave everything on the court, every game. Tell me how many other players can say that.”

The Nets have about $10.5 million free but they could, if they wished, make a move here, a move there and get closer. Since Smart is a restricted free agent, the Nets would have to sign Smart to an offer sheet and wait 48 hours to see if Boston matches.

Who else might be interested in the 6’4” combo guard? The Kings were one team with cap space who had been rumored to be interested, but ...

Until Tuesday, Smart had complained that the Celtics have not reached out to him but that seemed to have changed in recent hours. Maybe the Scotto and Himmelsbach tweets got Danny Ainge interested in breaking the stalemate.

Maybe they talked money....

Money is indeed an issue for Boston with its top heavy salaries paid Kyrie Irving. Al Horford and Gordon Hayward...

So many questions!

Would the Nets have to move some pieces to get enough cap room for an offer sheet that Danny Ainge couldn’t simply dismiss on his way to matching?

Would the Nets take on yet another backcourt piece when they already have a logjam?

Would they want to cut into their cap space for 2019-2020 and maybe 2020-21 to sign Smart?

Is Marcus Smart simply using the Nets as leverage, trying to scare the Celtics into actually negotiating? Did they enlist Marks in their plot? The Nets GM, after all, is not someone who willingly negotiates in public. Suddenly, he’s openly meeting with a free agent in LAS VEGAS. (Okay, that last one is probably one too many. We’re moving into conspiracy theories now. We should stop.)

Still, if the Nets could free up that logjam and find more cap space —preferably in one move— Smart would indeed be a solid addition. He can guard multiple positions and has something the current Nets backcourt lacks: bulk, strength. He’s a bit of a hothead, but he plays very, very hard.

He is only 24, younger than Spencer Dinwiddie, older than D’Angelo Russell, etc.

And no GM is more familiar with the restricted free agent process than Marks. He’s tendered offer sheets to Tyler Johnson, Allen Crabbe, Otto Porter Jr. and Donatas Motiejunas.

Is this just an exercise in speculation? Could be, most likely is, but what is the off-season about if not speculation and googling “ESPN Trade Machine.”

Stay tuned.