One anonymous coach told Heavy's Steve Bulpett that the Boston Celtics upgraded from Marcus Smart to Jrue Holiday at the point guard position after the initial Smart-Kristaps Porzingis swap and eventual Malcolm Brogdon/Robert Williams-for-Holiday deal over the offseason.
“I’m a Marcus Smart guy. I love what he brings to a team, and you’re going to start seeing more of it in Memphis now that him and Ja (Morant) are finally together,” he said. “But I don’t think there’s any doubt that Jrue’s an upgrade in terms of team chemistry. I’m not saying those guys didn’t like Marcus; I’m not saying that at all. But I have never heard anybody — player, coach, front office guy — ever have anything negative to say about Jrue Holiday."
The reasoning? Some coaches feel that Smart's fiery personality could be a drawback at the end of the day.
“Everybody’s personality can either put you in a good feel or put you on edge," the coach prefaced before saying, "Marcus Smart is an intense competitor that most people appreciate, but I’ve talked to people who’ve coached him, and there are times when his personality becomes an issue to deal with. And if you can get some of the same things without the agida of his irrational exuberance, to use a particular phrase, then you do it. I think Jrue Holiday’s a better player and an easier personality to live with. I’d still take Marcus on my team any day of the week, but I think this is going to work out really good for Boston — for Memphis, too.”
Marcus Smart finding his place in Memphis after long-time role with Boston Celtics
The Memphis Grizzlies are still trying to find their footing, but with Ja Morant's return from a 25-game suspension and Smart's return from injury following the Christmas holiday, they are at least whole -- or close enough to it with Steven Adams out for the year -- and could figure out what they have.
Smart looks comfortable next to Morant, going for 13, 17, and 22 points since his return, and the Grizzlies are a win-streak away from being in the thick of the NBA Play-in race; one that should heat up in the new year as the trade deadline approaches.
He's not in a place where everything clicked like Boston, but Smart appears to be in a place he can win.
Just probably not as much as the Celtics, it seems.