Marcus Smart Isn’t Going Anywhere and That’s a Good Thing

As Phil Jackson once told Toni Kukoc when the Bulls were trying to sign the Euro amidst a lot of waffling and hesitation, “shit or get off the pot kid.” Reports recently surfaced that the Celtics had offered Marcus Smart a contract extension earlier this month and the team had not heard back from the point guard’s agent. I’m sure there were some hurt feelings with all of the trade speculation being thrown around, but this deal solidifies Smart as a part of the Celtics plan for the (at least immediate) future.

The Celtics have had a rocky past year with a gigantic missed opportunity in the NBA bubble playoffs, followed up by a .500 season and getting dusted in the first round by Brooklyn, then their biggest offseason move being a salary dump of their oft injured point guard, Kemba Walker. So the C’s needed some good news, or at least some sense of stability, and thats what the Marcus Smart signing is right now.

There have been tons of reports over the last couple of years that Smart rubs some of his teammates the wrong way or that he even butts head with former head coach turned GM Brad Stevens, but it would appear much of that was overblown. Sure the Celtics could be thinking a bird in the hand is better as their reasoning for re-signing Smart, but I cannot fathom Stevens with all of his intimate knowledge of the Celtics roster and team dynamics would bring Smart back if he was such a problem. His teammates seem to be happy about the deal too so there’s that.

Does he jack up too many shots he has no business taking? Yup. Does he think he’s just as important as future MVP Jayson Tatum? Probably. And is he an emotional roller coaster of a player? 100% But sometimes a team needs that fiery, get in your face type guy, especially on a team who’s best player in Tatum is just not an emotional leader. Enter, Marcus Smart.

The money might seem like a lot at first glance (4 years at $77 million), but when you see the stupid money getting thrown around the NBA then this deal is practically frugal in comparison. Especially if Smart makes the majority of starts at PG or even ends up splitting duties with Dennis Schroder (who in an all-time mental lapse turned down said stupid money in the form of an $80+ million offer from LA and is now playing for the C’s on a 1-year midlevel exception).

The average annual value of Smart’s extension will range from $17-$21 million over the 4 years of the deal, which this past season wouldn’t have even cracked the Top 50 highest paid players in the NBA. Smart averaged a career high in points at 13.1 per game with 5.7 assists and 3.5 rebounds last year, not to mention is a 2x All-Defensive first team selection as arguably the best defender in the game at times. So this deal is far from outrageous.

Are this the fireworks that fans were hoping for? No of course not, but it’s a…smart…move that also allows the Celtics to keep their financial flexibility heading into the big ticket summer of 2022.

That is if you buy into the hype of a superstar signing in Boston, which I am less than certain on. I’m a little tired of always looking ahead to *next* summer for the real monster moves the Celtics never make. Sure they signed Al Horford, Gordon Hayward, and Kemba Walker to max contracts in the last handful of years, but 2/3rds of those relationships had ignominious endings. Hopefully Brad taking over for Danny Ainge in the front office and Horford returning helps, at the minimum, improve the Celtics’ public perception problem around the league.

The 2021-22 Celtics may not be better on paper, but I think this is a situation where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. You now have Smart, Tatum, and Jaylen Brown all signed long term for big money so in theory all should be comfortable in their roles. You have culture building locker room veterans in Horford and Enes Kanter, added scoring off the bench in Schroder, and brought in a new coach that seemingly will be better equipped to connect with players as a youngish black man in Ime Udoka with the credibility of being a former player and coming from the Gregg Popovich coaching tree (whom Tatum just played for at the Olympics). Could this team end up being nothing more than another likable, plucky, 7 seed based on talent alone? For sure. But if Tatum and Brown continue to improve and this team can actually have defined roles for guys with consistent scoring off the bench, then I think Celtics could surprise a lot of people next season.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s