Marcus Smart calls his new contract ‘a blessing’

"Boston loves me; I love Boston."

Marcus Smart Brad Stevens
Brad Stevens speaks to Marcus Smart in the second quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game 6 of the 2018 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. –Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Marcus Smart said he’s “ecstatic” about his new contract.

“This is a blessing,” Smart said during a conference call Friday. “Never in a million years [did I think] I’d be able to play for the Boston Celtics. Growing up watching them, it’s a historic franchise that they have, and to be a part of an organization that has that winning culture is something you will never forget and always remember.”

The Celtics announced Thursday they had re-signed Smart, but terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to Yahoo’s Shams Charania, the contract is for four years and $52 million — right in the ballpark of Smart’s reported asking price.

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Smart’s new deal puts an end to a somewhat rocky period for the 24-year-old. As a restricted free agent, Smart said the process was “frustrating” when he couldn’t gauge where he stood with the Celtics or other teams. Despite reports indicating interest from several clubs, Smart never received a formal offer sheet. Prior to his new deal, the only option on the table was Boston’s $6 million qualifying offer.

“It was frustrating at times just because you didn’t know,” Smart said. “When you don’t have any sense of what’s going on, that’s the frustrating part.”

Although Smart said in June he anticipated returning to the Celtics, he revealed Thursday he actually wasn’t too sure of his situation at times.

“At one moment, I didn’t really know what to think,” he said. “I didn’t know where I was going to end up.”

But the lack of certainty didn’t bother him. Smart said much of his attention was committed to his mother, Camellia, who was diagnosed with cancer in April. Smart said, as of now, Camellia is “stable” and “in good spirits,” and the news of his signing “brings a little joy” and “lightens up a situation that was really dark and gloomy.”

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“My main focus has really been on my mom and my family,” he said. “When you kind of go through adversity and something like this hits in your family, it kind of puts thing in perspective and everything else kind of becomes a blur to you.”

Smart said he knew everything was going to be OK no matter where he ended up playing — though he’s obviously pleased he’s staying in Boston.

“Boston loves me; I love Boston,” he said. “Boston wants me to be here, I want to be here. I am here. We made it work.”

Here’s what else Smart had to say during the conference call:

On what he wants to improve in his game: “It’s everything. Each year, I have expanded my game. This year, I have shown more of my ability to play the point guard position and be more of a playmaker. I’m just going to be working on all aspects of my game. The uniqueness about me is I don’t do one thing perfectly, or great. I do a little bit of everything. That’s what makes me so unique, so I’m just trying to master a little bit of everything and get better. If I could just get better a little bit each year, then I did my job.”

On being recognized for his defensive play: “It’s a great feeling. I’ve always taken pride in my defense. Growing up, I was always taught defense wins championships, offense wins games. If you can’t stop somebody from scoring, then it really doesn’t matter how much you score because you can’t get a stop. That’s how I was raised. To hear my name talked about in that aspect of [the game] is a great feeling.”

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On winning a championship with the Celtics: “I think we demonstrated the talent and the ability we had to do that last year with a few missing pieces. With those missing pieces back in action, I think it really makes it hard for us to beat. … I’m ecstatic and I’m ready to go, and like I said, with those missing pieces coming back, I think we have a real shot.”

On whether he considered signing the qualifying offer: “All my options were open. I didn’t know what to think. I went back and forth internally about what to do. That’s just part of it. What better problems to have? This is one problem a lot of people wish they could be having right now. I definitely had thoughts about taking the qualifying offer, but like I said, all my options were open. I never closed anything. I just had to wait and see what God had in store for me.”

On the turning point in his Celtics career: “This season. I lost a lot of weight this last season. I changed my body. I did a lot of things. I improved my game on both ends. I was able to help my team go deep into the playoffs and make a substantial playoff run. My confidence was there. This team had a lot of ups and downs, injuries, and things like that, but that shows the characteristics of a good team. Everybody can play well when things are going well. Everybody can be happy, fight, and have a good attitude when things are going well. But things start going bad and you face a little adversity, now you really show who you really are and things like that.”

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August 16, 2018 | 1:57 PM