By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The stalemate between Marcus Smart and the Boston Celtics is finally over.
Smart and the Celtics agreed to a four-year deal worth $52 million on Thursday, as first reported by Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. It’s not quite the $14-15 million annual salary Smart was hoping to get on the restricted free agent market this summer, but the $13 million annual average is a big raise that should keep the heart of Boston’s defense happy for years to come.
With Thursday’s pact the C’s lock up one of their point guards, with Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier set to hit the market next summer, and give Danny Ainge a tradeable contract should he need one in the near future.
“Keeping Marcus in a Celtics uniform was a top priority, and we’re excited to have accomplished that,” Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge said in a release to announce the deal. “His intensity is unmatched, and the level of toughness that he brings to the team throughout the course of the entire season is second to none.”
“This is where I want to be, and I’m ready to put a green jersey back on and get to work,” said Smart. “I’m determined to help my teammates bring another championship to the best fans in the world.”
The agreement ends what was a tumultuous summer for Smart. The Celtics extended Smart a $6.1 qualifying offer prior to the start of free agency, which gave them the ability to match any offer sheet Smart would have received on the restricted market. It also kind of miffed Smart, and for weeks there was talk that he was not very pleased with the Boston brass. But the offer sheets never came, and there was never really any market for him other than the Celtics. Once the Kawhi Leonard mess was sorted out Wednesday morning, the Celtics set their sights on signing Smart and got it done quickly.
While some may see this as an overpay for a guy who can’t do much on the offensive end, the Celtics are keeping an important piece to their success — and keeping him happy. With other legitimate scorers on their roster, Smart’s aggravating defense, guts and hustle are an essential part to Boston’s championship hopes for the next few years.
Boston drafted Smart sixth overall in 2014 and he’s been an integral part of the team’s success since. Though he struggles with finding any kind of consistency on the offensive end, Smart is one of the best defensive players in the game and able to match up with almost anyone on the floor. He has a tenacious motor and often makes up for his offensive deficiencies with shrewd hustle plays.
Smart, 24, averaged 10.2 points per game on 36.7 percent shooting (30.1 percent from 3-point range) along with 3.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.3 steals during the regular season. In the playoffs, he averaged 9.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
In his four-year NBA career, Smart has averaged 9.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. He’s played in 261 career regular-season games, starting 83 of them and 43 playoff games, starting 11 of those.