When the 2023-24 season starts, Jayson Tatum will enter his first NBA season without Marcus Smart on the Boston Celtics. While talking with Demichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal, Tatum talked about what the Memphis Grizzlies are getting with Smart.
“They’re getting a leader,” Tatum said. “They’re getting a guy who’s a winner, who’s been to the playoffs every year. We’ve been to the Finals together, obviously, so he knows what it takes to get there. Obviously extremely talented, the best defender in the league. He’s just a guy that you love to have on your team.”
Tatum also wished the best for Smart going forward.
“Sad to see him go,” Tatum said. “but happy for him to get a new start and excited to see what he does.”
Smart is slated to be the Grizzlies’ de facto starting point guard to start the season with Ja Morant suspended for the first 25 games of the season. With Smart off the Celtics, Derrick White is slated to take his place as the team’s starting point guard.
Jaylen Brown Reflects on Losing ‘Best Friend’ Marcus Smart
On July 26, Jaylen Brown talked about what it was like to lose Smart during his press conference after signing his extension with the Celtics.
“Definitely a lot of big changes,” Brown said. “Change is not always a bad thing. My brother and my teammate — and one of my best friends — is not on the team anymore. Everybody knows it — I learned so much from Marcus.”
Brown delved into the relationship he had with Smart and what the city of Boston will miss with him gone.
“Marcus has been somebody that’s, like, we butted heads at times. We fought, we did it all, we put each other in headlocks, etc. The journey won’t feel the same without him, to be honest,” Brown said. “But it’s a part of life. It’s a part of what you do going forward. And everything he’s instilled into this organization — everything he’s instilled into this community — is still going to be with us, still carried with us. So we’re going to wish him well on his new journey. Obviously, the city of Boston is going to feel the loss of his impact when he’s no longer here, but we’ll be able to keep moving forward.”
Marcus Smart Praises Celtics Fans
In light of Celtics fans not being too thrilled about losing Smart, the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year said that he wasn’t surprised knowing how devoted they are as a fanbase during his introductory press conference with the Grizzlies on July 7.
“The fan reaction in the city of Boston was exactly what I expect it to be and what anybody who’s played in Boston would expect it to be. It’s all love. They ride for this city hard, man,” Smart said, per NBC Sports Boston. “That’s how it should be. You’re supposed to ride for your city like that, so it’s all love. I wasn’t surprised by that.”
Smart was the longest-tenured Celtic on the roster, having played for them from 2014 to 2023 – and helped the team make the playoffs every season.