The Boston Celtics continued an offseason of change last night by extending a familiar face.
After reportedly offering veteran guard Marcus Smart an extension a couple weeks back, the two sides were finally able to reach a deal that will keep Smart in Boston for the foreseeable future.
Coming in at four years, $77 million, Smart will stick around in Boston until the 2025-26 season.
The deal itself is not something to complain about. Compared to the recent market we saw for veteran point guards, the Celtics are retaining Smart for a relatively cheap cost. Not to mention he’s a fan favorite who is already familiar with the system, only adding to the praise the deal has found from most Celtics fans.
While all of this is certainly true, it feels like this deal has sent Boston in the wrong direction. New President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens has been working on cleaning up the salary cap for next offseason so that the team could make a run at another big name free agent. That possibility went flying out the door once Smart put pen to paper with this deal.
Why the Boston Celtics are heading in the wrong direction after extending Smart
Smart signing this extension basically erased all the work the Celtics had done this offseason. They had somehow managed to create a feasible path to another star to pair up with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown next offseason, especially considering they were two of the three Celtics under contract for next season. Now they have another contract in Smart that essentially destroys that plan.
A more logical move would have been to trade Smart. Yes, you won’t find a player with more heart in the league, but that hasn’t exactly won the Celtics championships these past few seasons. They have a true point guard in Dennis Schroder on the roster now, as well as a clone of Smart in Josh Richardson, who also comes at a cheaper cost.
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That’s not to say Smart isn’t needed on this roster, but it just felt like it was time to move on. Despite the fact he set career highs in most of his statistical categories, it was really just a product of his minutes getting increased. His inconsistent play seemed to reach a peak this past season, and it was rumored that Tatum and Brown were getting sick of his antics. And now, he’s set to run alongside those two guys for the next five seasons.
Despite all the change this offseason, it feels like the Boston Celtics are in the same spot they were when the season ended. They switched coaches, front office personnel, and even flipped the roster upside down, but for what? By extending Smart, they basically announced him as the third star to run alongside Tatum and Brown for these next few seasons.
We have seen what this team looks like with Smart, Tatum, and Brown on the court at the same time. They had some success in the 2020 playoffs admittedly, but were horrid for most of last season. We know what they are capable of together, and it hasn’t worked out, so why extend a player who the team seemingly can’t win with?
Smart has admittedly done things that have won Celtics numerous games, but they have been regular season contests that don’t hold much value in the grand scheme of things. When it comes time for playoffs, the sporadic shooting and constant bemoaning of teammates catches up with him, and the Celtics end up bowing out of the playoffs. The goal isn’t to win random regular season games; it’s to win championships.
It just feels like the Celtics are content to stay in the same spot for some reason. They haven’t done anything to push them closer to a championship contender this offseason, but that’s largely been due to cap constraints. They had been working to create cap space for next offseason so they could make that move, but it appears that move was just extending Smart.
Most Celtics fans will see the initial headline of Smart sticking around and being overjoyed, but a deeper look at this deal should really leave fans scratching their heads. It’s really back to square one, as this team is going to find themselves in pretty much the same situation next offseason because of this deal.
While other teams have worked on making big moves to push themselves towards championship contention, the Boston Celtics have played it safe and settled for mediocrity, just like Danny Ainge did towards the end of his tenure. The Celtics have made tons of changes this offseason, but until they make changes that put them closer to winning a title, it will all be for nothing.