Marcus Smart has special message for Ainge, Stevens after C's shakeup


A lot has changed for the Boston Celtics since Tuesday.

Just 12 hours after their season ended with a playoff loss to the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics announced that Brad Stevens had vacated his head coach role to take over for Danny Ainge, who was retiring as the team's president of basketball operations.

Ainge admitted Boston's players were "surprised" and "caught off-guard" by the shakeup, but now that a few days have passed, the news is starting to sink in.

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In a lengthy Instagram post Friday, Celtics guard Marcus Smart shared his thoughts on a crazy season that ended with Ainge leaving the team and Stevens transitioning to the front office.

"I want to thank Danny Ainge for believing in me and drafting me 7 years ago," Smart wrote. "You have always had my back and I really appreciate it."

Ainge took Smart sixth overall in the 2014 NBA Draft and was an ardent supporter of the gritty guard. While Smart's name has come up in trade rumors several times in recent seasons, Ainge declined to move him each time, and the 27-year-old has developed into a core starter and the team's emotional leader.

Smart also showed love to the C's coaching staff and his boss -- who will now be his boss' boss.

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"Lastly I want to thank the entire coaching staff and everyone behind the scenes who helps make this all possible. Coach Stevens, well now President Stevens-thank you!" Smart wrote.

"Can’t wait to continue this journey. Looking forward to next season already!"

It's far from a guarantee that Smart will be in Boston for his seventh season, though. The veteran guard is one of the Celtics' best trade assets as he enters the final year of his contract, and if the C's don't want to sign him to a heftier deal in 2022, now is the time to move him.

Then again, Smart provides much of the toughness and the defensive prowess that the Celtics need. No one is more aware of that fact than Stevens, so it will be fascinating to see what the head coach-turned-executive decides to do with his longest-tenured player.

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