Stillwater News Press

June 27, 2014

Ex-Cowboy Smart goes No. 6 to Celtics


Associated Press

BOSTON — Soon after Wyc Grousbeck’s group bought the Boston Celtics, Red Auerbach gave him some advice.

The team’s legendary president at the time “told me personally right when I came in, ‘you need instigators, not retaliators,”’ Grousbeck said.

Twelve years later, the rebuilding Celtics drafted what Grousbeck called an “instigator” when they took guard Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State with the sixth pick Thursday night.

Smart said he was “ecstatic” to join a team he had worked out for three times.

“It felt like fireworks on the Fourth of July,” he said. “A lot of pressure’s been lifted off my shoulders.”

With their other first-round pick, the Celtics addressed a critical need by going for a perimeter scorer, drafting 6-foot-6 swingman James Young from Kentucky with the 17th pick.

The 6-foot-3, 227-pound Smart averaged 18 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists as a sophomore last season. He can play both guard positions and could team up with point guard Rajon Rondo or make Rondo expendable in a trade. Rondo’s contract expires after the upcoming season.

Drafting Smart doesn’t have “any effect on Rajon at all,” Grousbeck said. “When you’re rebuilding a team, you take the best available athlete and then you let it all work out. We’ve got an all-star point guard, so that’s not the question here.”

Smart is looking forward to playing with the eight-year veteran.

“Rondo was actually one of the guards that I liked watching,” Smart said. “He reminds me of me. He’s very versatile. He can affect the game in many ways.”

The Celtics are continuing to rebuild after going 25-57, the third-worst record in club history, in their first season under coach Brad Stevens.

Smart plays with a competitiveness and physical nature that NBA coaches covet. He’s a solid defender but needs work on his offensive game.

“We think that this kid really has some special attributes,” Grousbeck said. “This kid is energetic. He’s a bull. He is a force and when I met him he filled the doorway. He’s just got that physique and that drive and that attitude that we really like around the Celtics.”

As a freshman last season, the 18-year-old Young was second on Kentucky with 14.3 points per game. He hit 40.7 percent of his shots and 34.9 percent from 3-point range. He led Kentucky with 20 points and seven rebounds in the team’s loss to Connecticut in the NCAA championship game.

The 17th pick was one of three first-rounders obtained in July when the Celtics traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets. They also have Brooklyn’s first-rounders in 2016 and 2018.

The Celtics have three first-rounders in 2015 — their own plus one obtained from the Los Angeles Clippers for allowing them to sign coach Doc Rivers before last season and another from Philadelphia.

Boston has a total of eight first-round picks over the next four years, giving them plenty of assets to build a young team or use some choices in trades for a veteran.