With hours before the official start of free agency on the horizon later today, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix has dropped a bit of a bombshell in Boston regarding newly minted President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens and the Celtic who played the most years for him, Marcus Smart:
Boston’s acquisition of Josh Richardson could spell the end of Marcus Smart’s run in Boston. Smart has become a fan favorite over seven years in Boston, but Brad Stevens has been frustrated by Smart’s unpredictable play in recent years, per sources.
Mannix notes that the Celtics will look to trade Smart before the start of the 2021-2022 regular season. If you’ve followed trade deadlines and offseasons in the past, you know that Smart is no stranger to rumors. Sources tell Mannix that while Smart could have fetched multiple first round picks in the past, his inconsistent play of late might net just a first rounder and rotational player for Boston this summer.
Smart is in the final year of a 4-year, $52 million contract he signed in restricted free agency back in 2018. His nearly $14 million price tag next season is Boston’s best substantial trade chip now.
After a dust up with officials last season in a win in Charlotte, Smart was seen barking at referees and then at Stevens on the sidelines for not defending him:
“We need Marcus and I’ve told him a number of times how much we need him,” said Stevens. “But this is the part about Marcus that I love, right? His fire, his competitiveness. If there’s a moment when he’s upset with us, that’s all part of it. We move on pretty quickly. We’ve been together for a long time. I’ve been yelled at before and that’s OK. I love him and I trust him.
“Again, we’ve been through a lot together so I just think it’s one of those things where, he knows how important he is to our team and, listen, he’s going to be the guy that — he gives a lot to our team. He does a lot of things that are really hard but don’t always get the attention by some. I think we do a good job in Boston of recognizing all that he does and certainly, our team and our staff recognize all he does.”
Smart seemed to smooth things over with Stevens on the bench during the third quarter.
“Me and Brad, that’s our relationship. We’ve been in it six years, so we have those little moments, and it’s over,” said Smart. “It’s done with and we move on to the next one.”
If these reports are true, that love and trust seems to have eroded. And now with Stevens off the Celtics’ bench and in the front office and Smart in a contract year, there may be little margin to smooth things over.