Marcus Smart will play his first game in a Memphis Grizzlies uniform on Wednesday night, and he is ready to finally play without trade rumors swirling around him. When he takes the floor in a new jersey, Smart will have an extra chip on his shoulder after what he felt was disrespect from the Boston Celtics.
Smart played the first nine seasons of his career with the Celtics, but the last couple were filled with speculation that Smart would be dealt to another team. Back in June, those rumors finally became reality. Smart was traded to the Grizzlies as part of a three-team deal that sent Kristaps Porzingis to Boston.
Now, on the eve of his Grizzlies debut, Smart told The Athletic he felt like the trade was inevitable. Then, on June 22, he found out he was headed to Memphis. The biggest problem Smart had with the situation was that, according to him, he found out through social media before he heard from the Celtics.
"If I'm being quite frank, I knew I would be traded eventually," Smart said. "Just figured it would be the next season, just based off my contract and with the new CBA. We already knew that. But it was just the way it happened. I was told everything was good after asking multiple times. Like, 'I'm hearing [rumors], what's going on?' And they're like, 'No, you're good, you're good, you're good.' And then when I do hear about the trade, it's from Shams [Charania] on Twitter before I hear from the team."
It sounds like Smart will have some extra motivation in 2023-24, and the Grizzlies will need that because star player Ja Morant has been suspended for the first 25 games of the season. If Memphis is going to weather that storm and remain near the top of the Western Conference standings, Smart will have to play a big role.
In his time with the Celtics, Smart averaged 10.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game. Known for his defensive prowess, Smart earned All-Defensive first-team honors three times in the last four years.
The Grizzlies begin their season with a matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night, and Smart is excited to get rolling.
"You always want to be where you're wanted, and [one] team's trash is another team's gold. So I'm glad to be here," Smart said of the Grizzlies. "I'm glad to be on an organization that wants me and sees me [have] great value. So I'm ecstatic and I'm ready to get going."