Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka is embarking on his first offseason alongside the president of basketball operations Brad Stevens; together, the two will have to make a decision in regards to Marcus Smart and his forthcoming role.
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Many are wondering how Stevens plans to fill the void at the starting point guard position — which was left behind when Kemba Walker was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. And, if you’re thinking it should be time for the six-year defensive specialist to take the reigns, one Boston journalist certainly begs to differ.
Bob Ryan: ‘I Hope They’re Not Counting On Marcus Smart’
Boston Globe journalist, co-host of the Bob Ryan & Jeff Goodman podcast, Bob Ryan believes acquiring a starting point guard should be at the top of Stevens and Udoka’s offseason wishlist.
“The number one technical issue: they need a point guard,” Ryan said on this week’s episode of the Bob Ryan & Jeff Goodman Podcast. “I hope they’re not counting on Marcus Smart being the starting point guard.”
But, what other option do the Celtics have? His co-host Jeff Goodman asked Ryan.
“They have to go out and find one,” Ryan replied. “Brad’s gotta go out and find one. I don’t know. (Payton) Pritchard’s going to be in this league for 10 years, 12 years — probably along the lines of our recent podcast guest, TJ McConnell. He’s going to be a sought-after, valuable auxiliary player. I don’t know if he’ll ever be a star or anything. So, he’s not the answer but you want him on your team.”
Smart, who started 45 of 48 regular-season games throughout 2020-21, showed great promise as the team’s main facilitator. Averaging a career-best in both points (13.1) and assists (5.7), Marcus isn’t a disappointing option for Boston.
Goodman: Marcus Smart Needs a ‘Big-Time Shooter’
However, long-term success will predicate how Brad and Ime decide to reshape its roster for 2021-22.
“I don’t think it’s going to be enough unless you have Smart and you add another big-time shooter,” Goodman said. “What if I told you you could have Duncan Robinson with Tatum, with Jaylen Brown, with Robert Williams, but your point guard is Marcus Smart?”
Smart, who’s been criticized in the past for his questionable shot selection, is also entering the final year of his four-year, $51.9 million deal, next season. It’ll be interesting to see how he bodes with his new head coach, which Ryan pointed out in regard to Marcus potentially holding the keys to Udoka’s offense.
“Of course, one of the issues with Marcus Smart is shot selection and the previous coach either didn’t try or was unable to instill the proper calibration in that regard,” Ryan said. “And that is a challenge for Mr. Udoka. You know I’m highly ranked in his fan club but I have to realistic. At times you want to go, ‘Marcus!'”