Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been fined $25,000 and Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith has been fined $15,000 for their roles in an on-court altercation in Saturday’s preseason game in Cleveland.
There was little doubt that a fine was coming, but the good news for the Celtics is that Smart avoided a suspension.
With 3:38 left in the opening quarter, Smith and Celtics center Aron Baynes became tangled when they locked arms in the post. Baynes shook free, and Smith responded by shoving Baynes in the chest with two hands.
Smart then charged at Smith and shoved him from behind before Smart was restrained by teammates Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier. He was ejected from the game, but before he left the court, he signaled for Smith to meet him in the bowels of the arena to fight.
“I accept the consequences,” Smart said after the game. “I’m not afraid of that. Whatever comes with it, comes with it.”
Smith said after the game that Smart went after him because he had no interest in playing in the exhibition game and wanted to be ejected. The Celtics, meanwhile, were frustrated that Smith was not ejected.
Smith has a bit of a history as a Celtics agitator. He committed a flagrant foul against Al Horford under the basket in Game 2 of last season’s Eastern Conference finals, leading Smart to confront him then. The two were separated before that situation escalated.
On Saturday, Smart alluded to that incident.
“Once again, you get to pushing and shoving, and I just wasn’t having it,” he said. “We went through this last year, and I’m not trying to do it again. I did what I had to do [for] my teammates. Just like if it was me, my teammates would do the same thing.”
Former Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas is still recovering from last season’s hip surgery and has yet to begin practicing with the Nuggets. But Thomas’s close friend, NBA veteran Jamal Crawford, said he is confident that Thomas is in line for a strong season.
“He’s in a good place, he really is,” Crawford said. “I think he knows whenever he gets out there it’s a team that not only wants him, but needs him. He’ll be able to do his thing, and he’ll help them win games.
“That’s what he does. Wherever he goes, he always somehow rises to the occasion. I think with him actually getting the surgery, when he’s back, he’ll actually be back. That’ll be fun to watch.”
Thomas initially injured the hip in March 2017, his final season with the Celtics. He continued to play, aggravating the injury during the Eastern Conference semifinals, and has yet to return to his All-Star form.
After he was traded to the Cavaliers, he missed the start of last season before returning to play in 15 games. He was then traded to the Lakers and played 17 games before getting the hip surgery. This summer he signed a one-year, $2 million deal with Denver.
“I think he’s feeling better for sure,” Crawford said. “But it’s a process. I told him, ‘Don’t rush. We’ve seen what that looks like, so let’s not rush. Let’s just take our time.’ No one really remembers the beginning of the season anyway.”
Hayward helps out
The NBA on Monday named Celtics forward Gordon Hayward as one of its ambassadors for the “Her Time to Play” initiative, which is focused on teaching the game to girls ages 7 to 14. As part of Jr. NBA Week, Hayward and his wife, Robyn, will host a clinic for 30 girls in Boston on Saturday, with Hayward teaching them basketball skills and Robyn talking to them about off-court leadership.