BOSTON (AP) — 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.
The 6-foot-3, 227-pound Smart said he was “ecstatic” to join a team that had shown great interest heading into the draft.
“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 selection, 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.
That’s two young, promising players for a team that has eight first-round picks in the next four years as it looks ahead to its second season since a blockbuster trade sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets in July.
Smart and Young join forwards Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, first-round picks the past two years, in a promising young core.
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.
But Stevens is more concerned with winning.
“When you’re a coach and when you’re in the midst of it, you’re trying to win every game. You’re trying to win the next game,” he said. “You don’t look at anything as rebuilding. You look at it as the next opportunity.”
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.