Turns out the Boston Celtics‘ heir apparent to Kemba Walker has actually been roaming the team’s backcourt for the past seven seasons. The Celtics handed Marcus Smart a massive $77.1 million contract extension this past weekend and subsequently — albeit unofficially — the keys to their offense.
While the move means the former No. 6 overall pick could remain in Beantown for another four seasons, the pricepoint has been met with some pushback in NBA circles. A near $80 million payday for a defensive-first guard just doesn’t sit well with some. However, don’t you dare bunch ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith into that group, who finds the idea of Celtics fans being anything less than ecstatic rather blasphemous.
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Stephen A. Makes Fiery Argument for Smart’s Extension
In a somewhat shocking turn of events, the highly-outspoken, always entertaining basketball mind went on the offensive when discussing Smart’s deal during his “Ain’t No Way!” segment on “Stephen A.’s World.” Here’s what he said:
The Boston Celtics yesterday agreed to terms with Marcus Smart on a four-year $77.2 million contract extension that could keep Smart in Boston through the 2025-2026 season. And this Smart contract means it’s time for ‘Ain’t No Way!'” Smith exclaimed. “Because guess what, there is no way that Marcus Smart should be getting less than $20 million a year. That’s right, I said it. You didn’t expect that, did you? You thought I was gonna go off the other way, say he was overpaid but ‘Ain’t No Way!’ I’m saying that.
Because Marcus Smart is a starter on a perennial playoff team. A seven-year veteran, 27 years of age, a former first-round draft pick and most importantly one of the elite defenders in the game of basketball,” Smith added. “And he’s getting less than $20 million a year in today’s NBA economy. I know, this was the max he could get and I understand that. But hear this, ‘Ain’t No Way!’ a player of Smart’s skill set should get this kind of contract in today’s game.
And don’t tell me about his struggle shooting the ball. Not when Ben Simmons is making over $35 million a year. I don’t want to hear that,” he stated. “Brad Stevens and the Celtics did very well for themselves. Ain’t no way Celtics fans should be complaining about this contract, I’ll tell you that much.
You can check out Smith’s mini-tirade of sorts in all its glory below:
Is Smart Ready to Be Boston’s Lead Guard?
By no means is Smart the perfect point guard. Yes, his shot selection still remains sporadic at times. Although, as Chad Finn of the Boston Globe pointed out, the constant hounding he receives for it may be a bit overdone.
“Smart averaged 10.6 attempts per game last season, and averages nine attempts per game for his career,” Finn wrote. “He even makes a few; his 3-point percentage over the past three seasons, 34.8, is higher than that of Trae Young and Devin Booker.”
Despite taking a minimal stepback defensively in some eyes — due to injuries — the Oklahoma State product is coming off arguably the best professional season of his career. In 48 games (45 starts), Smart averaged career highs in points (13.1) and assists (5.7). His 39.8% field goal percentage was also good enough for the second-best output of his career.
Of course, plenty of what makes Smart so pivotal to the Celtics goes well beyond the box score, from serving as the team’s emotional leader to his willingness to make the grunt plays that rarely garner the deserving recognition. With that said, the C’s have clearly taken notice, and while we could argue the numbers of the contract, the fact of the matter is the team’s longest-tenured player is here to stay for a bit longer.