Marcus Smart

Co-Owner Wyc Grousbeck Confident About Celtics’ Future

Celtics co-owner, managing partner, and CEO Wyc Grousbeck appeared today on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston before tonight’s Game 2 between the Celtics and Cavaliers to discuss a bevy of topics, as relayed by Adam Kaufman of WBZ-AM NewsRadio 1030 (click here for links).

Perhaps most interestingly, Grousbeck uncovered the fact that the Cavs were interested in obtaining/would have accepted Jayson Tatum instead of the Nets’ upcoming pick in the 2018 NBA Draft in last summer’s blockbuster trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Celtics. Ultimately, the Celtics preferred to send the pick instead of their prized rookie, which sure appears to have been the right decision as we sit here today.

Faced with the upcoming free agency of Marcus Smart this summer and the potential free agency of Irving, Al Horford, and Terry Rozier next summer, Grousbeck was also asked to discuss the Celtics’ willingness to dip into the luxury tax if necessary. Per Kaufman, Grousbeck said the Celtics are prepared to “pay for performance” and “to do whatever it takes to win again.”

As for Irving’s knee injury that has kept him out of this year’s postseason, Grousbeck said that he has no long-term concerns about Irving’s knee, which parallels the report from about a month ago that Irving was already seen walking around without a noticeable limp just a little over a week after his surgery.

Given Irving’s positive prognosis, the relative youth of the Celtics’ roster and head coach, and the prowess the team has exhibited so far this postseason without Irving, Gordon Hayward, or Daniel Theis, it’s no surprise that Grousbeck feels very confident about his team’s future, even going as far as to say he’d be disappointed if the Celtics aren’t back in the same position they’re in now for the next five years.

Community Shootaround: Boston’s Point Guard Depth

While the absence of ex-Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving may detract from some drama in the Eastern Conference Finals, it didn’t slow the Celtics down en route to a convincing victory over his former team in Game 1 of the series on Sunday.

As a matter of fact, the Celtics have thrived despite the Irving injury all postseason thanks in no small part to the contributions of two other point guards on the roster.

In a starter’s workload this postseason, which includes 37.3 minutes per game, third-year guard Terry Rozier has averaged 18.2 points and 5.5 assists per game. The 24-year-old may not star alongside Nick Kroll in an upcoming feature film this June* like Irving will but he’s looked every bit as capable at the helm, piloting the C’s through two playoff series already.

Another major component at play this postseason, a third asset that rounds out Boston’s elite point guard depth chart, is Marcus Smart. While Smart’s playing style has always been unique, the 10.3 points and 4.4 assists per game that he brings along with his toughness and other intangibles, have made him invaluable.

Regardless of how the Celtics fare this postseason, they’ll happily welcome Irving, a bonafide star, back into the starter’s role next season. That, unsurprisingly, could put a squeeze on the rest of the players at the position. Sure, Smart’s role as a reserve combo guard allows him to slot in alongside Irving, but Rozier saw just 24.4 minutes of nightly action in the regular season prior to the opportunity created by Irving.

Our question for you this evening is which of the two guards you’d value more heading into the 2018 offseason?

Should the C’s make bringing restricted free agent Smart back this summer a top priority or could they get by with Rozier and another third-string guard? Alternatively, should Danny Ainge potentially look to deal Rozier instead given that there’s more of an overlap between him and Irving than there is between Smart and Irving?

Is there room for all three long-term?

Consider Boston’s success this postseason proof that a surplus of point guard talent is a pleasant conundrum to have. Weigh in with how you think the situation will develop below.

*Hi film studio, all commissions happily accepted.

Celtics Notes: Smart, Rozier, Ainge, Youth, Brown

There was a point this year when it seemed that injuries and an off-the-court family issue could end Marcus Smarts season. However, he’s back now and helping the Celtics as they try to get past the Sixers and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. ESPN’s Chris Forsberg writes that Smart’s ability to help Boston in multiple facets of the game has been a help to their case.

“I think it all starts with his competitiveness,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said. “He has the ability to make plays that nobody else makes. Like, whether it’s ripping the ball out of somebody’s hands, or the [offensive rebound] he made against [Joel] Embiid where he laid it in and got fouled [in Game 1]. We have a number of clips over the years of him rebounding over the top in traffic where no guard can get that ball. He brings a contagious element to our team that you can try all you want to quantify it, but other than winning and losing, you can’t quantify it.”

Smart’s defense on Ben Simmons in Game 1 is specifically highlighted as one of the ways Smart helped Boston. Forsberg’s story also covers Smart’s mother battling cancer and how she still supports him back home in Texas.

Check out more Celtics notes below:

  • In a separate story, Forsberg writes that the Celtics’ youngsters have been playing like veterans, which has enabled the team to play well in the face of multiple injuries.
  • Entering the offseason, Terry Rozier envisioned himself as the Celtics’ starting point guard leading the team to the playoffs. However, the acquisition of Kyrie Irving put that vision on hold. Then, Irving went under the knife and Rozier found himself leading the Celtics through the postseason, Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report details.
  • The Celtics’ roster has withstood massive injuries to Gordon Hayward, Irving, Smart, and others. Taylor C. Snow of NBA.com writes that president and general manager, Danny Ainge, deserves the credit for the Celtics’ depth and resilience.
  • Jaylen Brown, who seemed doubtful for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals with a right hamstring strain, was upgraded to probable on Thursday, the Celtics announced. Brown did not start Game 2, but did play in the game.

Marcus Smart Expected To Play In Game 5

4:26pm: Stevens said that Smart felt great after the morning shootaround and is expected to play Tuesday, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets.

11:03am: The potential return date for Celtics guard Marcus Smart keeps getting moved up. After initially aiming to play in a possible Game 7 in the first round, Smart said over the weekend that he may actually be back for Game 6 against the Bucks. Now, it appears he could suit up for the C’s in Game 5 on Tuesday night.

As Taylor Snow of Celtics.com details, head coach Brad Stevens said Smart’s injured right thumb was re-evaluated on Monday and he has been given the OK to return, as long as he clears a few more hurdles leading up to tonight’s game.

“He still has to go through some things later this morning after our shootaround, and then we’ll see how he feels after that,” Stevens said. “If he feels good, then he’s been cleared physically to go. If he has any pain or anything comes up, then we’ll hold him out.”

Given how eager Smart has been to return to the Celtics’ lineup, it’s hard to imagine him not playing on Tuesday in Boston now that he has received medical clearance. If he’s able to play, it will be his first game since March 11 — he underwent surgery on March 16 to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb.

While Smart’s offensive numbers this season (10.2 PPG on .367/.301/.729 shooting) were modest, he’s one of the Celtics’ most important defensive players. And with Kyrie Irving sidelined, Smart’s return will help provide more depth in Boston’s backcourt, taking some pressure off Terry Rozier at the point.

Marcus Smart Hoping To Return For Game 6

Marcus Smart hasn’t played since early March because of a thumb injury, but he hopes to only miss one more game for the Celtics.

“Right now, [a Game 6 return is] the plan and we’re still on the same track,” Smart said earlier today (via Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com). “I’ve been doing everything but contact, so I will be able to go and start that.”

Smart will have his thumb reevaluated on Tuesday in New York and he believes that he’ll be cleared to play.

“The surgery did its job,” said Smart.“Thumb is holding up well. I feel ready, I feel strong enough to get back out there. I’m just waiting on the OK.”

Boston lost the last two games against Milwaukee to bring the series to 2-2. Smart has been participating in shootarounds before each of the Celtics’ playoff games, in an effort to avoid being rusty upon return and being comfortable in the splint he will have to wear on his finger.

“Actually [the splint and tape is] real comfortable. It feels like nothing’s there,” he said. “To have that comfortability, especially in my dominant hand, my shooting hand, that’s a good feeling to have.”

Injury Updates: Smart, Curry, Hill, Turner

Celtics guard Marcus Smart may be getting closer to a return, writes Marc D’Amico of NBA.com. Smart, who had surgery on his right thumb and has been sidelined since March 12, will be re-evaluated next week, coach Brad Stevens told reporters today.

“He’s doing everything in a workout that you can do,” Stevens said. “It’s just a matter of being cleared for live play.” He added that the Celtics intend to use Smart as soon as he is cleared for full contact.

Smart has been going through workouts with coaches, but is not permitted to do anything competitive until he receives medical clearance. Doctors are concerned with limiting the risk that his thumb will be re-injured once he returns to the court.

“I think it’s just a matter of you have to have that post-surgery healed enough to be able to take a hit even with a brace on it,” Stevens added. “That’s the hold up.”

There’s more injury-related news to pass on:

  • The Warriors welcomed Stephen Curry back to practice today, but have no intention to use him in the series with San Antonio, relays Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. “He’s coming along well, but don’t expect him to be Willis Reed tomorrow,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. Curry, who has sat out the past four weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee, completed several non-contact drills today without any setbacks. Doctors will re-evaluate him next weekend in hopes of a second-round return.
  • Cavaliers guard George Hill is questionable for Game 4 after experiencing back spasms Friday night, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Hill had an MRI today after playing just 30 seconds in the fourth quarter because of back soreness. Coach Tyronn Lue said veteran Jose Calderon will probably start Sunday if Hill can’t play.
  • Evan Turner was able to start today for the Trail Blazers after having a titanium plate placed in his right shoe to protect his big toe, tweets Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest. Turner suffered a bruise in Game 2 when he was kicked in the toe while chasing a loose ball.

Playoff Notes: Leonard, Smart, Wolves

The Spurs lost Game 1 against the Warriors without Kawhi Leonard‘s services at their disposal and coach Gregg Popovich was asked if could see the 2016/17 MVP candidate returning for this season’s playoff run.

“You’ll have to ask Kawhi and his group that question…so far they say he’s not ready to go. So we can’t do anything until that happens. Then we would have to decide what’s going on from there. But that’s the first thing that has to happen.” Popovich said (via ESPN Now video link).

The coach added that Leonard is in New York rehabbing his injured quad and Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (Twitter link) hears that the small forward still has not been cleared to play. Sources tell Haynes that there is no timetable for Leonard’s return, but he is being “examined routinely.”

Rumblings of his rift with the organization continue to linger over the team with veteran Pau Gasol recently telling the media that many of the San Antonio’s players haven’t seen Leonard in weeks. Several teams are keeping tabs on the situation and we learned this weekend that the Clippers will be among the teams with a trade offer should the Spurs put Leonard on the trade market.

Game 2 of the Spurs-Warriors series will be held on Monday. As the teams await the contest, let’s take a look at some notes from other playoff squads.

  • Marcus Smart said he hopes to be ready to return to the court for a potential Game 7 of the Celtics‘ opening-round series or Game 1 of a potential second-round matchup, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe relays (Twitter link). The combo guard, who is recovering from surgery on his right thumb, hasn’t played since early March.
  • Taj Gibson, who signed a two-year, $28MM deal with the Wolves last summer, played through pain during Wednesday’s playoff-clinching win and he’ll do the same during the team’s series with the Rockets. “No different, just got to play through it,” Gibson said of the pain he played through earlier in the week (via Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune). “There’s not much improvement. It’s just something that’s going to have to heal up in the offseason and get rest.”
  • Jimmy Butler has played only three games for the Wolves since recovering from knee surgery earlier in the season. Still, he’s confident that the team, despite the injuries woes, will be able to compete in the franchise’s first playoff series since 2004, Zgoda relays in the same piece. “I feel good, well-rested to tell you the truth,” Butler said. “I’€™m confident in myself and these group of guys. Everybody’s locked in and focused. We don’t have anything to worry about, just go out and play.”

Marcus Smart Eyes Late April Return

Celtics guard Marcus Smart is expected to receive clearance to return to game action in late April, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets.

This is some much-needed good news for the snakebit Celtics, who will be without stars Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving during their playoff run. Hayward was lost during the first game of the season while Irving recently opted to have season-ending knee surgery.

Smart underwent surgery March 16th to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb. He had the thumb reevaluated on Monday by specialists in New York and was given a timetable of six weeks from the surgery for a projected return to action, which would target his comeback around April 27th, Charania adds. That would mean he’d miss a few playoff games but might return later in the first round or early in the second round.

Smart has been cleared to begin light non-contact shooting. A good playoff showing by Smart could help his long-term prospects. The Celtics could make him a restricted free agent by extending a qualifying offer of $6MM this summer. Otherwise, he’ll be unrestricted.

Smart has appeared in 54 games this season, his fourth in the league. He’s averaging 10.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 4.8 APG in 29.9 MPG.

Celtics Notes: Irving, Outlook, Smart

The Celtics’ chances of making a deep postseason run were dealt a serious blow on Thursday when the team announced that Kyrie Irving would be undergoing a second procedure on his knee that will sideline him for four or five months.

As Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe writes, the Celtics knew when they acquired Irving from the Cavs last August that the star point guard had dealt with lingering knee pain and might need to go under the knife at some point. However, league sources tell Himmelsbach that the procedure wasn’t considered pressing, and the C’s crafted a plan to limit the “wear and tear” on Irving’s knee.

When Irving’s pain became more pronounced last month, he and the club attempted to address the problem with rest and then with a minimally invasive surgery. After team doctors recognized an infection in the knee that would likely require a second procedure, the C’s “aggressively” sought other options, sources tell Himmelsbach. Even though Irving reported that his knee was feeling better though, it was eventually determined that the second surgery – which will officially end his season – was the only viable path.

Here’s more out of Boston:

  • In spite of Irving’s injury, Celtics president Danny Ainge insists he’s eager to see how his young squad performs in the postseason, according to reports from Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald and A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. “We’re not giving up on this. Absolutely not,” Ainge said. “We’ve played some fantastic basketball in spite of the challenges that we’ve had from a physical standpoint. So I like watching these guys play, and they’re going to fight.”
  • While the Celtics’ upside for this year’s postseason is limited, the franchise remains extremely well-positioned for the future and some bad injury luck doesn’t change that, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.
  • Irving isn’t the only injured Celtics guard to keep an eye on — Marcus Smart is scheduled to have his thumb re-evaluated next week, and his recovery timetable could become more clear at that point, tweets Himmelsbach. The most likely scenario would see Smart returning for the second round of the playoffs, assuming Boston makes it that far.
  • Earlier today, we passed along word of the Celtics’ contract agreement with Jonathan Gibson, and asked you how far you expect the club to advance in the playoffs.

RFA Rumors: Parker, Gordon, Exum, Smart, Randle

Only about a quarter of the NBA’s teams are expected to have meaningful cap room this summer, so restricted free agents hoping for a major payday could have a tough summer, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Last week, we identified eight RFAs we believe have positioned themselves well for long-term contracts, and while we’re still bullish on those players, the RFA market may not be as active overall as it has been in some previous offseasons.

Within his latest piece, Kyler took a closer look at a few specific 2018 restricted free agents, so let’s round up some highlights from his breakdown…

  • Most NBA insiders believe the Bucks will ultimately retain Jabari Parker, according to Kyler, who suggests that – with a new arena on the way – Bucks ownership may not be as worried about the rising cost of team salary as you’d expect.
  • The Bucks and Magic may let the market drive the respective prices on Parker and Aaron Gordon, according to Kyler. With Orlando’s new management group looking to shed cap dollars, the team will be wary of overpaying Gordon. Kyler also notes that the Magic could be open to the possibility of a sign-and-trade if Gordon wants to play elsewhere. However, sign-and-trades can be particularly tricky to pull off for RFAs getting big raises due to the Base Year Compensation rule, so that may be a long shot.
  • The prevailing thought on Dante Exum is that he’ll be back with the Jazz, though likely not on a long-term deal, says Kyler.
  • In order to pry Marcus Smart away from the Celtics, it might take an offer sheet at least in the range of $12-14MM per year, per Kyler.
  • The Kings are worth watching as a possible suitor for Lakers big man Julius Randle, though many people expect the Mavericks to be the team “on Randle’s doorstep” when free agency opens on July 1, Kyler writes.
  • Clint Capela (Rockets), Zach LaVine (Bulls), Jusuf Nurkic (Trail Blazers), and Rodney Hood (Cavaliers) are among the RFAs considered more likely than not to stay with their current teams, according to Kyler. For more details on those players – along with an item on Suns guard Elfrid Payton – be sure to check out Kyler’s full piece.