The Boston Celtics have brought back their heart and soul, agreeing to a contract with Marcus Smart
It was long and frustrating, and you get the sense Marcus Smart never got the money he felt he deserved, but he is officially back where he belongs with the Boston Celtics. The market dictated the price of Smart this time, but there is no doubt that Smart is worth a lot more than his four year $52 million contract.
The Celtics will always be able to find motivation and inspiration because of a coach that keeps them focused at all times, but Smart brings everything to another level. From the moment he started his rookie season, everyone could see that Smart was a different breed of player.
He played with the most intensity and passion, while making sure no one on the court could possible out work him. That mentality combined with great physical versatility has made Smart one of the truly elite defenders in the NBA, and that is what earned him money on that contract.
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The real value, however, is the impact he has on everyone around him. It goes beyond the fact that defense is easier for anyone else when he is on the court, and he unlocks all kinds of small ball options with his versatility.
When Smart is out there, any player will stand out terribly if they are not matching his intensity. There is a reason Smart has always been a closer despite not being a starter. He brings something with him on the court that impacts everyone around him.
Smart is the emotional leader and the heart and soul of this team. During this rebuild, the Celtics have flourished playing with emotions than anyone else. There are those moments when things blow up, as we saw a couple times against the Wizards, and a certain incident involving a hand.
Smart, however, is becoming a master at harnessing those emotions, and making sure all of it comes out on the court. The Celtics play with this vicious intensity but always handle themselves, and never let it get in their way.
Every part of the Celtics organization knew that they needed Smart back this season. The long way was strictly because of the market, but the Celtics are not the same without Smart. It would force them to completely change their defensive approach, and take away the most important piece when it comes to continuity.
Keep in mind, Smart is also the longest tenured player on the Celtics. They want to keep this core together and you cannot know what this core is without Smart, even if he is the worst shooter on the team.
The Celtics want to keep things together, and let this team grow as a unit. If you lose Smart, then it is almost like this team is restarting again, at least to a certain degree.
With Smart joining everyone else that is returning, they will pick up right where they left off last year, just with the two best players on the team rejoining them.
The Celtics know they can be a special team next season, but it has to be more than just their talent. The West is far too stacked to think you will be able to win because you are more talented than them. The Celtics will have to find other ways, and Smart is crucial to that.
Brad Stevens might be the biggest difference, but Smart is the one that can give the Celtics the kind of edge that no one else in the league is capable of bringing. The Celtics have seen Smart’s impact and know what position he needs to be put in.
Smart should be in line for the best season of his career, and that will make him one of the true difference makers on a championship contending team.