Marcus Smart is set to hit the open free agency market this offseason and there are quite a few teams that are already interested in signing him. While there are other teams that are going to throw big offers his way, Smart has been open about his desire to remain with the Boston Celtics. That may change when the money aspect of free agency becomes clear, but it certainly is a positive sign for Danny Ainge and company.
During the 2017-18 season with the Celtics, Smart was a key piece that helped Boston make it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Not only did they make it that far, they were able to do so without stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward on the court.
Smart has not been known for being a proficient offensive player, but he does bring toughness and defense to the court on every single night. He ended up averaging 10.2 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game last season, per ESPN statistics. In addition to those averages, his shooting numbers were not up to par at just 36.7 percent from the field overall and 30.1 percent from beyond the three-point arc.
While his numbers may not impress a ton of fans and analysts, there is something about Smart that the Celtics need. His numbers may not be where many thought they would at this point in his career, but he is still the kind of “glue” that keeps the Celtics together.
All of that being said, what three reasons can be given to support the statement that the Celtics must re-sign Smart this offseason when NBA free agency opens?
Boston Needs His Defensive Ability Off the Bench
Smart’s offense has been criticized since he came into the NBA, but there is no denying what he brings on the defensive end of the court. He is a hard-nosed defender who is capable of slowing down perimeter players and can play the passing lanes well. Very few players in the league like going up against the physicality that Smart happily brings to the court.
Energy Is Something That Cannot Be Taught
There are very few players in the NBA that are able to bring more spirit and energy to a team every single game like Smart does for the Celtics. Not only does he bring the energy for himself, he is infectious for his teammates. Smart has helped change the outcome of quite a few games for the Celtics over the years, simply by pumping his teammates up with a boost of energy.
Depth Is Necessary for an NBA Finals Run
At this point in time, Boston has no clue whether they will have to go up against LeBron James in the Eastern Conference playoff picture once again in 2018-19. Whether they do or not, the Celtics will need to have depth in order to make a run to the NBA Finals. Boston did not have a lot of depth in 2017-18 and letting Smart walk in free agency would be a huge blow that takes away their most consistent bench piece.
Expect to see the Celtics try to retain Smart this offseason. There is no telling what kind of market will open up for him, but Boston simply cannot afford to let him walk away in free agency.