Following a disappointing end to the 2020-21 season, the Celtics look very different from a front office and coaching perspective.
The Brooklyn Nets bounced Boston from the playoffs unceremoniously last season, winning that series 4-1 with three blowouts along the way.
Then, Danny Ainge retired after nearly 20 years as a front office executive with the Celtics, and Brad Stevens took his place as President of Basketball Operations in Boston.
Stevens followed by bringing in Ime Udoka to pilot the club back into contention.
Retaining Smart provides a level on continuity for Udoka, who embarks upon his first season as a head coach.
Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has agreed to a four-year, $77.1 million max contract extension with the franchise, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. The fully guaranteed deal through 2025-26 includes a trade kicker.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 16, 2021
Smart Embodies Celtic Culture
Smart identifies as the personification of this version of the Celtics.
The do-it-all guard made his name on the defensive end and seems to have the innate ability to galvanize Celtic faithful.
It’s a regular occurrence at any Celtics game to see Smart diving for a loose ball or taking a charge.
And considering the front office and roster shuffle around him, having Smart around seems like the right move.
Boston started their busy offseason with a trade that shipped Kemba Walker, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, and a 2025 second-round pick to Oklahoma City in exchange for former Celtic Al Horford, Moses Brown, and a second-round pick in 2023.
The Celtics then flipped Brown to the Dallas Mavericks for swingman Josh Richardson.
Extending Smart aligns neatly with that philosophy.
Smart stands as a two-time All-Defensive first-teamer, earning those berths in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
His ability to defend an opponent’s best perimeter player, despite being just 6-foot-3, makes Smart a valuable roster building block.
One of the greatest Marcus Smart moments ever 💪 pic.twitter.com/8cprCqmBYx
— Celtics Junkies (@Celtics_Junkies) August 17, 2021
Smart’s Leadership And Versatility Remain Valuable
Although often considered a defense-first player, Smart set career highs in scoring (13.1 points per game) and assists (5.7 assists per game) last season.
Miscast as a shooting guard over the last few seasons, Smart now slides into a point guard role with the Celtics.
This forced Smart off the ball, and to his credit, the 27-year-old notably improved his three-point shooting ability.
Now, the only other traditional point guard on the roster is Dennis Schröder.
With the ball in his hands more often, Smart should be about to display his playmaking skills for Brown and Tatum.
Happy for my dawg! https://t.co/bHRYfnR3PH
— Jayson Tatum (@jaytatum0) August 17, 2021
But should things go sour in Boston, Smart’s extension will not turn into an albatross contract.
The deal itself averages about $19.25 million per year, so trading the versatile guard shouldn’t be an issue if need be.
The Celtics seek to ascend into the Eastern Conference elite after slipping last season.
Retaining Smart keeps a leave of continuity and culture that can only help the club’s new coach.