Celtics

Blakely: Kings preparing offer for Marcus Smart

Blakely: Kings preparing offer for Marcus Smart

LAS VEGAS – After striking out on landing Chicago’s Zach LaVine, the Sacramento Kings have their eyes set on trying to sign another restricted free agent – Boston’s Marcus Smart.

The 6-foot-4 guard has reportedly been upset and bothered by the lack of attention being paid to him by the Boston Celtics, well aware they will have a chance to match any offer received by Smart.

Sacramento’s interest stems in part from having a roster that has struggled mightily when it comes to defending shooters on various points on the floor.

Last season, the Kings were ranked 25th in the NBA in field goal percentage defense (.470) and 29th in three-point percentage defense (.377).

And with more and more versatile offensive players entering the league, the need for a do-it-all defender like Smart has apparently become more of a priority for the Kings franchise.

The Kings offered LaVine a four-year, $78 million contract which the Bulls matched almost immediately. Sacramento is unlikely to offer Smart such a lucrative deal, but it’s expected to be closer to the $12-14 million salary that Smart was reportedly seeking in a new deal.

And at that price tag, it is far from a given that the Celtics will match the offer.

If Smart signs an offer sheet with the Kings and Boston declines to match it, it will be a blow to a Celtics defense that was among the best in the NBA last season.

Smart was drafted with the sixth overall pick by Boston in the 2014 NBA draft.

In his four seasons in Boston, Smart has averaged 9.4 points, 3.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 36.0 percent from the field and 29.3 percent from 3-point range.

Shooting has been a clear weakness for Smart, but his defense and ability to make game-changing plays has made him a favorite of fans and the coaching staff who all greeted him enthusiastically when he showed up at the end of Boston’s 100-80 summer league win over Charlotte.

Smart said he was meeting with his agent Happy Walters.

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Happy 31st birthday, Larry Bird vs. Dominique Wilkins Game 7 duel

Happy 31st birthday, Larry Bird vs. Dominique Wilkins Game 7 duel

Thirty-one years ago today, the old Boston Garden was the site of one of the great superstar duels the NBA has ever seen.

Larry Bird vs. Dominque Wilkins. Celtics vs. Hawks. Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 7.

On a Sunday afternoon, in the first of a Garden playoff doubleheader (the Bruins and Edmonton Oilers would play Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final later that night), the two Hall of Famers staged a one-on-one battle to remember.

Bird and the Celtics came out on top, 118-116. Wilkins finished with 47 points - 12 in the fourth quarter - on 19-for-33 shooting. Bird had 20 of his 34 points in the fourth and was 15-for-24 for the game. And, in an ode to how different a game the NBA was then - each player only hit one 3-pointer. 

Tommy Heinsohn was the CBS analyst for the game with Brent Musburger doing the play-by-play. Former Celtics coach Doc Rivers was in Atlanta's backcourt. Heinsohn and Rivers looked back at the game with the voice of the Celtics.

Heinsohn: "Once it started to happen, you just saw the desire of both these players." 

Rivers: "The crowd here was amazing. I gotta tell you, I fell in love with the Celtic crowd in this game."

The Celtics would go on to lose to the Detroit Pistons in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals, but this game provided a lasting memory from that postseason.

Perhaps Musburger put it best after another late Bird drive and finish: "You are watching what greatness is all about."

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Marcus Smart 'ecstatic' about All-Defensive selection, but wants a championship even more

Marcus Smart 'ecstatic' about All-Defensive selection, but wants a championship even more

Marcus Smart's reaction to being named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team was not all that surprising.

“I was ecstatic,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston in a phone interview. “I’m definitely appreciative of being recognized for what I do defensively. But I’m not in this for awards or accolades. I want to win games, win a championship.”

And that made for a bittersweet time for Smart, happy for his own individual accomplishment but more than willing to trade it in for another round or two of basketball for the Celtics. 

Smart also tweeted his appreciation and his desire for a title rather than individual honors.

With each passing day since their playoff exit, there has been a growing sense of discord surrounding the Celtics' season, which ended with them being eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals in just five games by the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Smart has been vacationing since the season ended and said he has not heard or paid much attention to the talk surrounding what happened and didn’t happen with the Celtics' season.

In his end-of-the-season interview with the media, Smart didn’t hesitate in defending Kyrie Irving from criticisms that his leadership was a problem for the team. 

“That’s bull[expletive]," Smart said at the time. "Not one of us on this team knows what Kyrie’s been through. Probably a few people in this world know what Kyrie goes through. It was hard for him as well. He was forced into a situation where it was business over the friendships, where he had to come into a situation knowing that this is a group of guys that had something going before I come here, how will I fit in? He didn’t want to disrupt that. And that says a lot.

Smart added, “This is Kyrie Irving we’re talking about. And he’s talking about coming in and disrupting us. We took him in with full arms and we tried to understand it. Like I said, we never really understood. We’re not in his shoes. So that’s just a bull(expletive) statement to say his leadership killed us. There’s four other guys out there, there’s 12, 13 other guys on the team, coaches and everything. So to blame it on one guy is bull[expletive].”

Another heavily talked-about criticism of the Celtics this past season centered around them having too much talent and not enough playing time or prominent roles to go around to keep most of the players happy. 

Smart acknowledged the team’s overflow of depth was among the challenges the players and coaching staff tried to work through, to no avail. 

“We had a lot of talent; we were stacked, one through five,” Smart said. “It just didn’t work.”

As the longest-tenured Celtic, Smart, who was drafted fifth overall in 2014, has been around the organization long enough to know that Danny Ainge, the team’s president of basketball operations, will not stand pat this summer. 

Smart said he has no idea what changes will be made, but Ainge’s track record makes it pretty obvious that the Celtics will have a different look when training camp opens in a few months. 

Smart said his confidence level in Ainge is “real high” when it comes to adding talent,  but said, “That's Danny’s job. That’s for the front office to figure out. But I do believe Danny and those guys will figure out what we need to do to be better next season.”

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