BOSTON (CBS) — Marcus Smart is set to begin his eighth season with the Boston Celtics, the longest tenured member of the team. He has a new four-year contract, and a new role that he’s confident he’ll thrive in going forward.
For Smart, everything about the 2021-22 Celtics screams “fresh start.” Not just on a personal level, but for everyone on the team.READ MORE: Richard Seymour 'Ecstatic' To Take Place In Patriots Hall Of Fame
Brad Stevens is now running things atop the franchise, with Ime Udoka brought in to replace him on the bench. After a disappointing season last year, this year represents a soft reset, with Stevens sticking with Boston’s core but making darn sure their supporting cast will be much better this time around.
“I’m excited to be back and with this group of guys, and for a fresh start. That’s my mentality with Brad moving up and Ime coming in,” Smart said at Monday’s media day in Brighton. “We’re trying to get back to being the team we were in the past. It was definitely different, there was uncertainty and it was confusing [this offseason] but we’re past that now and now we’re ready to rock and roll.”
Smart is transitioning to a new job as well, moving from shooting guard to the team’s starting point guard. The guard is confident in everything he does, and he is eager to get the ball rolling on his new role.
He said that being a point guard is a big part of his DNA, and that his job going forward is pretty simple: Get the ball to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.READ MORE: Gotham Chopra Sheds New Light On Russell Westbrook In SHOWTIME Doc: 'People Think He's Raw Emotion, There's A Lot Of Layers There'
“It’s easy. For me, it’s finding those guys in the right spot,” said Smart. “I was one of the leaders in assists last year and I think that speaks volumes to my playmaking skills. … We are going to lean on Jayson and Jaylen a lot this year, and we’re going to get them the ball as much as possible.”
Smart shooting less and passing more would be music to the ears of Celtics fans. We know he’s a really good passer, after he averaged a career-best 5.7 assists per game last year. We saw his wonderful two-man game with Brown for much of the season, which led to some easy looks and buckets for Brown.
But Smart also took his share of heaves — and many would argue that he took too many when Tatum and Brown were the been options. That was just one of the many frustrating factors to last season’s disappointment, which ultimately led to an up and down regular season and a first-round ousting by the Brooklyn Nets.
It was not acceptable by anyone’s standards. While the focus is on the road ahead, the fresh start to this season is a great opportunity to also right some wrongs from last year.
“We learned that we love each other. It’s more than just like – we did a lot of things together that most people probably don’t think we did. On the court, it just didn’t click the way we wanted to,” Smart said of last season. “It’s a lesson we learned: Nothing is guaranteed and you have to go out there and demand it, to take it. We can’t get too low or too high.MORE NEWS: Nathan Eovaldi Says He'll Have No Limitations On Short Rest, 'Extremely Confident' Red Sox Will Pull Off Game 6 Win
“It’s a marathon and not a sprint and it’s not going to be easy, but if we do our job at hand we’ll be put in a good place,” he added.