Why Marcus Smart’s Future is Worth Brad Stevens, Celtics’ Investment

Getty Images Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Robert Williams of the Celtics

Before heading into the final year of his contract, Boston Celtics veteran Marcus Smart and Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens agreed on a four-year, $77.1 million extension, thus eliminating Boston’s short-term cap flexibility while securing the seven-year pro’s immediate future.

According to Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy, Smart received an offer for a new four-year deal, worth roughly $17 million a year, two weeks ago before both sides came to an agreement.

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Why Celtics’ Marcus Smart is Best for Boston

The 2x NBA All-Defensive Team recipient’s new deal averages out to $19.2 million a year, which is as close to a max-deal as the Celtics could afford.

For Marcus and Boston, this is the right move. Transparency is key. And, for a team like the Celtics, who are currently in the midst of a transitional offseason while searching for a new identity, it’s vital for Smart to know where he stands within the organization.

For Smart, a lifelong Celtic who’s battled in all three of the Celtics’ recent trips to the Eastern Conference finals, entering a potential “bridge” year in order to make two ends meet was never feasible. Waiting for Washington Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal or an All-Star of Beal’s magnitude was never in the cards, for Marcus and the Celtics.

He needed a commitment from the only NBA head coach he’s ever played for to ensure his place as a pillar for the franchise’s immediate plans.

Celtics’ Ime Udoka: ‘What Marcus Brings is Invaluable’

Smart’s renewed deal not only re-affirms Celtics head coach Ime Udoka’s belief in Boston’s longest-tenured Celtic, but it also proves he and Stevens are on the same page.

“What Marcus brings is invaluable: he’s the heart and soul of the team at times,” Udoka said of Smart on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Zolak & Bertrand.

And after spending time with Smart, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown while coaching Team USA in 2019’s FIBA World Cup, Udoka saw fearlessness in Marcus.

“He was the only guy who really wasn’t scared out there,” Udoka added. “We got future NBA All-Stars and All-NBA guys, and they were a little timid at times. But Marcus was a very vocal leader. He has that edge and toughness about him, so the things he brings to your team are the things you love every player to bring. You hate playing against him, but you want him on your side.”

Despite his erratic shooting — which is typically the biggest knock naysayers have on Smart’s game — from time to time, poor shot selection was a given last season. The uniqueness of back-to-back COVID and injury-riddled seasons took a toll on Marcus, who was poised to take on the additional workload. However, his passing improved; Smart averaged a career-high 5.7 assists per game.

And, the Celtics as a team, defend better when Smart is on the floor. Now, Smart, alongside the All-Star tandem of Tatum and Brown, has a clear-cut role in Boston as the team’s starting point guard and an established nucleus. This bodes well for the 2021-22 Celtics; a team that’s looking to return to the postseason at full-strength with the super star-studded Brooklyn Nets in their crosshairs.

When it comes to battling the best teams in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics need a player like Smart. Someone who isn’t afraid to get into people’s faces, dive for loose balls, and make game-winning plays.

And after seeing electric, score-first All-Star point guard talents such as Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, and Kemba Walker all come and go for one reason or another — which wasn’t through no fault of their own respective decisions — it was time for the Celtics to invest in a point guard they can trust. Someone who isn’t considered a flight risk, someone they know, whose effort will never come into question, is in the midst of his prime years and is a defensive-minded veteran whose key to revamping a promising team’s newfound identity; Smart checks off all of these boxes.

He’s worth the investment.