In the lead up to the regular season, Boston Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla had conversations with Marcus Smart about the veteran’s on-floor role with the team.
It seems Mazzulla did a lot of listening during those talks with Smart, though.
“He told me what it was going to be,” Mazzulla said with a smile following practice Wednesday, per NBC Sports Boston.
While Mazzulla joked with the reporters, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the current longest-tenured member of the Celtics actually had a large say in his role this season. Smart coveted being the team’s go-to point guard until he was finally given the opportunity last year under Ime Udoka, and he probably wouldn’t give up the duties easily.
“Me and Smart have had great conversations,” Mazzulla said, striking a more serious tone than before. “Like I said, we were both point guards, both been around each other for a long time. So, our conversations are about how can we just affect the game on both ends of the floor and just make the right play. He’s done a great job focusing on that. Like I said, I fully trust him to make the right play.”
Mazzulla and newcomer Malcolm Brogdon expressed they have the utmost faith in Smart to run Boston’s offense. He averaged a career-high 5.9 assists per game last season, but Boston’s offense bogged down in the playoffs, which prompted Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens to search out more playmaking, which led to swinging a trade for Brogdon.
Celtics fans shouldn’t have any real issues with Smart being the team’s point guard, but if he is telling Mazzulla how things are going to be, that could certainly be an issue for the first-year coach, who has been thrown into a difficult situation due to the Udoka scandal. Mazzulla, who is the youngest coach in the NBA this season, needs to be the one calling the shots, especially if it includes tough decisions that Smart might not exactly love.
While Mazzulla seemed to be joking, this could be a little signal that he doesn’t have complete control of a team that has NBA title aspirations.