Marcus Smart and the lingering deadline for rookie extension

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Marcus Smart and the lingering deadline for rookie extension

Post by bobheckler on Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:37 pm

http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/20974651/nba-clock-ticking-marcus-smart-extension



Marcus Smart and the lingering deadline for rookie extension




10:55 PM PT



Chris Forsberg
ESPN Staff Writer



BOSTON -- Marcus Smart once dislocated two fingers diving for a loose ball in an otherwise unremarkable summer league game, so no display of hustle should be that surprising. Smart simply does not know how to throttle down on a basketball court.

But just in case anyone needed a refresher, there was Smart on Friday night in Philadelphia, lunging at Richaun Holmes as the Philadelphia 76ers center tried to advance the ball from the backcourt in the second half of an exhibition game.


Smart, giving up 6 inches, got a hand on the ball and clung to it as Holmes tried with two arms to prevent Smart from wrestling it away. Eventually, as the two do-si-doed, the ball popped loose near the free throw line. Smart immediately launched himself between the legs of T.J. McConnell and snared the loose ball. Smart even had the presence of mind to roll on his back and somehow feed teammate Terry Rozier, who then lobbed an alley-oop that rookie Guerschon Yabusele finished with a layup.

When the Boston Celtics convened to watch film of the games two days later, coach Brad Stevens made sure to spotlight the sequence.

"Now you guys that weren't here before know why we all love Marcus," said Stevens. "He does things that other guys just don't do. And that's a great tribute to him."


Marcus Smart is the longest-tenured player on the Boston Celtics, even though he's only 23 years old. John Geliebter/USA TODAY Sports

Smart, the No. 6 pick in the 2014 draft, is entering his fourth NBA season. On a Celtics roster that underwent an unprecedented overhaul this summer, he wears the badge of "longest-tenured Celtic," even if he finds that notion rather preposterous. Still, as one of just four returning players, Smart is a small slice of familiarity on Boston's new-look roster.

Smart, too, has a new look. He dropped 20 pounds this summer with help from a private chef and a diet heavy on Mediterranean food ("Dates are great; I love them," said Smart). He acknowledged that he battled back pain at times during last year's playoff run when his weight climbed. Smart is noticeably slimmer, and there's a renewed explosiveness to his game -- just watch this video from recent post-practice, one-on-one work when Smart soars for a slam as rookie Jayson Tatum scrambles to defend:

https://twitter.com/_/status/915987036095385600


Maybe not coincidentally, the 23-year-old Smart is eligible for an extension on his rookie pact before the regular season tips on Oct. 17. The Celtics must decide if it's worthwhile to give Smart a hefty payday now or run the risk that a solid season could further elevate his price tag and allow rivals a chance to bid for his services.

While league sources indicate the Celtics are interested in an extension, Smart confirmed a Yahoo! Sports report Monday that suggested that neither he nor his agent have received a formal offer from the team yet.

"Me and my agent haven't heard anything from the Celtics," said Smart, who pointed out how other players from his draft class have inked big-money extensions. "You're seeing everybody else's numbers and things like that, so we're just kind of waiting."

Despite the lack of talks, Smart said his preference is to be in Boston into the distant future.

"I would love to be here long term. I hope I'm here long term," said Smart. "I love the organization, I love the fans, I love everything the Celtics are about."

For Boston, an extension might ultimately hinge on what the market sets for Smart's value. It seems unlikely Boston would be willing to pay Smart the sort of money Gary Harris got from the Denver Nuggets (4 years, $84 million), but there's a more palpable number for a Celtics team that's set to live above the cap for the foreseeable future. Staring at an eventual climb back into the luxury tax (and, further out, repeater penalties), the Celtics must still be responsible with their spending, especially considering that many rivals won't have much to spend on the open market this summer.

Regardless of whether the two sides come to an agreement before next week's deadline, there's an obvious urgency to Smart's play this preseason, and a clear desire to take a step forward this year.

Smart has heard all of the complaints about his play. It's part of the reason he got off social media this summer. You don't need to remind him of his shooting struggles -- he has shot 35.8 percent from the field for his career, including a cringe-worthy 29.1 percent beyond the 3-point arc. He spent part of his offseason working out in Denver with Chauncey Billups trying to figure out ways to harness his unique power guard skills.

But Smart also knows how much he impacts winning, and box score stats cannot fully quantify his impact. So when Stevens highlighted Smart's hustle during that recent film session, it resonated with Smart.

"It feels tremendous," said Smart. "I do a lot of things that don't show up in the stat sheet. And those things, you can't teach. This league is so focused on scoring the ball, but they don't look at the other things, like diving on a loose ball when it's a close game, a one- or two-possession game, getting your team another possession. Or ripping the ball away from somebody or taking a charge."

The way Smart slimmed down this season, some wondered if he'd still be able to guard bigger and stronger players. Smart found the suggestion that he might struggle amusing.

"I definitely laughed at that," said Smart. "I've been guarding bigger guys ever since I was in college, same weight I am now when I was in college. That's never going to change; my strength is never going to change. Just because I slimmed down, that's to my advantage. I can move a lot faster now, in addition to my strength."

During Monday's Celtics-Sixers rematch at TD Garden, Smart put his grown-man strength on display again. Sixers rookie Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 pick in June's draft, drove hard down the right side of the lane and tried to spin into the paint. A backpedaling Smart ripped the ball out of Fultz's hands as he went up for a shot and, balancing on the end line, Smart flipped the ball to a teammate to start a break the other way.

Smart's hustle plays aren't lost on his new teammates.

"He's a scrapper. He's a competitor. He's a bulldog," Gordon Hayward said of Smart. "And it's fun to play with guys like that. He's always going to make the energy play, the hustle plays, and I think, in the [first Philadelphia] game we had where he dove on the ball and he got the ball and we got a layup, those are like game-changing plays."

Smart's offensive play has been solid through Boston's first three preseason games. He's averaging 10.7 points per game on 54.5 percent shooting overall. He has connected on 7 of 12 3-point attempts (58.3 percent). Even in off-day workouts, Smart simply looks more confident shooting the ball.


Smart has started only 72 games in his first three NBA seasons and has said that he is more comfortable coming off the bench for head coach Brad Stevens. Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty

Stevens hasn't committed to what Smart's role will be this season. He covets his experience and ballhandling abilities off the bench but has also said the Celtics must be flexible, and there could be matchups in which Smart makes sense with the first unit.


The big question is what kind of player will Smart eventually be? Is he the sort of player that can start opposite Kyrie Irving in Boston's backcourt or will he live in that Sixth Man, energy-giving role?

There are metrics that love Smart, such as FiveThirtyEight's CARMELO, which categorizes Smart as a "future All-Star." One of the metric's comparable players is beloved former Celtics guard Dennis Johnson. Another is Avery Bradley, Boston's former all-defense starting shooting guard who was traded to the Detroit Pistons this past offseason.

As the Celtics search for a new identity with their overhauled roster, Smart's play could go a long way toward shaping how this team is viewed, especially on the defensive side. It's clear Stevens has a special appreciation for what Smart brings to the floor.

Boston's front office must decide just how much it's willing to pay for what the box score can't always tell you about Smart's impact.



bob
MY NOTE:  "There are metrics that love Smart, such as FiveThirtyEight's CARMELO, which categorizes Smart as a "future All-Star." One of the metric's comparable players is beloved former Celtics guard Dennis Johnson. Another is Avery Bradley, Boston's former all-defense starting shooting guard who was traded to the Detroit Pistons this past offseason."  I'll take Dennis Johnson, all day-everyday and twice on Sunday matinee games.  Hell freaking yeah!  Same with another Bradley (although I think Rozier is more likely to fill that roll than Smart.  Rozier's better built for guarding the speed merchants, which was Bradley's forte).  I am completely stunned by the change in Smart's shooting mechanics.  I honestly never gave much credence to the idea that he'd fix his shot.  He had 3 years to do it, but didn't.  He claimed he fixed it last summer, but didn't.  I came to the conclusion that his mechanics were burned into him, from when he first started playing basketball, and it would be very difficult if not impossible to fix them.  Like having to completely break every bone in your wrist to repair it, it's never really as good as everybody else's ever again.  It might be better than it was, but not as good as it should have been if the surgery wasn't needed.  It's only the pre-season but his mechanics actually now look like a player who one expects to be a decent, certainly adequate, shooter.  His mechanics, through 3 pre-season games and with all the appropriate October caveats, look fixed.  Smart, Rozier, Tatum, Brown.  Now THAT'S a good looking young future core, and it's not all "Trust the Process" in Boston.  We are competing now AND we have this young core.  Danny done good, real good...


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Re: Marcus Smart and the lingering deadline for rookie extension

Post by hawksnestbeach on Tue Oct 10, 2017 2:49 pm

I think we should keep Smart long term, and if the best way to do that is to lock him in now, I say let's do it. He has a Birdesque aversion to losing which makes him willing to outwork anyone and face any challenge. Hawk

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Re: Marcus Smart and the lingering deadline for rookie extension

Post by wideclyde on Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:40 pm

hawk,

Not sure how anyone can deny any parts of your suggestion. The amount of money may be a factor for Ainge as we are near the tax payer limits.

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Re: Marcus Smart and the lingering deadline for rookie extension

Post by dboss on Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:49 pm

Even if Smart does not improve his offensive efficiency this year some team will offer $15 mill for 4 years.

The Celtics could put that offer on the table right now and he may take it  ($60 million extension)

But i would wager that Smart will be a primary scorer for us this year and if he hits the RFA market the offers will be in the $72 to $80 million range.

The teams that could go after him include #1 the Lakers who are in desperate need of a guy with particular skills like those of Marcus Smart and if they are not able to secure the services of George for example they could go hard at Marcus.

If you are not convinced that Marcus is going to be a very solid shooter I can understand that but I think you are wrong.

There is not a single poster on this board that has been more critical and pessimistic about Marcus turning into a reliable shooter then I have.  To me it was not about simply working harder on shooting the ball.  Increasing the number of reps.  His problems were always structural so it really does not help to do the wrong thing more times and expect a better result.

It is already clear to me that Marcus has figured this out.  Perhaps he has been working with a shooting coach but it is evident to all of us that he is shooting the ball differently  than he has since being drafted by the Celtics.  There are actually two noticeable alterations.

First he keeps his right foot more in front of the other, he has moved his release point to the front right and slightly lower.  Now it looks like everything is lined up.  The right foot lined up with the release point and direction of the ball.  The shot is compact with no hitch.  The shots are coming off of his fingertips real soft.

Danny don't f around with this.  Lock Smart in now.

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Re: Marcus Smart and the lingering deadline for rookie extension

Post by k_j_88 on Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:04 pm

Marcus was working with Chauncey over the summer.


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Re: Marcus Smart and the lingering deadline for rookie extension

Post by RosalieTCeltics on Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:50 pm

I know the thought is to sign him now, but if you listened to Scal last night, it sounds like Danny is going to roll the dice. Since Smart is a restricted free agent, they can match whatever any team offers . I would think that the thought would be to sign him now, Stevens loves the guy, so he may sign a team friendly contract. He wants to stay in Boston.

Danny, sign him up now!!!!
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Re: Marcus Smart and the lingering deadline for rookie extension

Post by dboss on Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:42 pm

Smart says he wants to be here.  If Danny wants him here he should resign him now.  

I think it is important to understand that while the summer resulted in turning over a significant part of the roster,  trading IT and Avery and Crowder still has a stinky smell to it.  Yes i know Danny probably made the right move but in the process he had to ignore any semblance of loyalty to his players. That is not a good precedent.

I want to see Marcus play this year without having a symbolic guillotine hanging over his head.  He is without a doubt the most important player on this team and reflects all the passion and perseverance for winning that only the great Celtics players bring.  He is a loyal player and perhaps has more influence on this team than anyone can imagine.  He plays harder than any player on this team.

Danny just gave Hayward a ton of dough and gave up tons of assets to get Kyrie but neither one of them has the leadership qualities of Marcus.  It is not like those guys can say let's lock those guys down on defense and then go out and actually do that.  Marcus leads by example.

Last night during the post game interviews Marcus revealed that there have been no discussions about an extension with Danny.  There was some pain in his voice.  

Marcus sees where guys like Harris was extended to $84 million and other guys twice that much.  Embid gets an ungodly salary increase and has played 31 freakin games in 3 years.

Make the Smart move danny.

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Re: Marcus Smart and the lingering deadline for rookie extension

Post by RosalieTCeltics on Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:42 pm

I agree totally. Time to show a little Celtic Pride and make Smart the face of the defense. Last week when he pulled that ball out of the opposing players hands, Stevens showed that film over and over the next day, saying "this is why we love Marcus Smart". So it is obvious he wants him on this team. Give the coach what he wants Danny. Do it wo the kid can feel like ripping a few more balls from the opposition this year. It has become his signature play!!
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Re: Marcus Smart and the lingering deadline for rookie extension

Post by NYCelt on Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:29 pm

I think the best move is to extend him now.

Probably the best we have on defense, can shoot, very good passing game and a versatile guard looking like a lock to be the point behind Uncle Drew.

The price is highly likely to rise if an attempt isn't made to strike a reasonable deal now.  Not a good time for front office posturing, because that's not going to bring a discount.  Quite the contrary.

Nearly a no brainer IMO.
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Re: Marcus Smart and the lingering deadline for rookie extension

Post by bobheckler on Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:18 am

Maybe there are cap considerations.  We go deep into luxury tax hell this year signing Smart, what does that mean for next year?  Next summer Danny can sign/trade players first and then go over the cap to resign Smart. Can't wheel-and-deal if he is already over because he signed Smart this year.

Nobody made an offer for Kelly, who was also a RFA, until after Danny released him.  Maybe Danny is hoping he can scare suitors off because Danny can go over the cap because we own Smart's Bird Rights.


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Re: Marcus Smart and the lingering deadline for rookie extension

Post by dboss on Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:32 am

bobheckler wrote:Maybe there are cap considerations.  We go deep into luxury tax hell this year signing Smart, what does that mean for next year?  Next summer Danny can sign/trade players first and then go over the cap to resign Smart. Can't wheel-and-deal if he is already over because he signed Smart this year.

Nobody made an offer for Kelly, who was also a RFA, until after Danny released him.  Maybe Danny is hoping he can scare suitors off because Danny can go over the cap because we own Smart's Bird Rights.


bob

As Sam use to say don't concern yourself with the money.

All of the top teams are or will be tax payers.  That will  include Boston.


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Re: Marcus Smart and the lingering deadline for rookie extension

Post by k_j_88 on Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:03 am

The Celtics are middle of the pack in terms of salary payout, yet are near the top in terms of best teams. They can probably she'd some contracts and afford to sign Smart in the upper teens/year.


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