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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