The Boston Celtics turned heads on Thursday night when they draft point guard Marcus Smart in the first round. This could be for multiple reasons. Smart is considered to be possibly one of the best overall players in this year's draft class and the Celtics certainly wanted the best available. However, with trade rumors swirling around Rajon Rondo, could Smart represent the future in Boston?
The Celtics selected Smart No. 6 overall to help bolster their backcourt. The two-year starter from Oklahoma State was often considered the No. 1 overall pick in the drafter after averaging 15.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in his sophomore season. Pairing that with his overall athleticism and physical build and Smart could be an immediate starter for the Celtics. Will they need that at the point guard position?
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Boston already has All-Star Rondo and combo guard Avery Bradley on the roster, making the drafting of Smart feel a bit odd at the time. Many had Boston pegged to draft a big man to help with size and defense. However, Rondo's future is uncertain at the moment and Smart could be his eventual replacement.
The point guard survived any draft-day trades despite a lot of interest. The Sacramento Kings wanted to pull off a deal that include their first round pick along with Ben McLemore and Isaiah Thomas. The interest from the Kings was not surprising. They had inquired about Rondo during the mid-season trading period, but Boston failed to execute a deal. The Houston Rockets have taken interest in the point guard. The New York Knicks have even been linked to him and no deal has been made.
Danny Ainge has been coy about Rondo's future in Boston. The point guard is set to be a free agent in 2015 and has not announced whether or not he plans on signing an extension, likely paying attention to the team's offseason moves before making his own decision. The Celtics could try and use him as a recruiting tool to get players like Kevin Love next season, but if Rondo tests the market then he might not be back. Smart could take his place.
For now, the Celtics are planning on using both players in the backcourt. Head coach Brad Stevens told reporters that he was confident Rondo and Smart could be very effective playing alongside one another and he expects only good things from the pairing. He gave no indication on whether or not the draft pick was a move for the future, only thinking about the present with the two players.
"I don't think there's any doubt, I think they can play together," Stevens said, via ESPN.com. "I think it will be great for Marcus to have a guy like Rondo to look up to, to learn from. Not many guys get that opportunity, especially early on in the draft like this. Marcus is another guy that I was thrilled that he was there at 6, because physically he's ready to play and he competes every single minute of every single day."