Ex-Boston Celtics heart and soul taking lesser role can make new team trade winners

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors
Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

FanSided's Tyler Watts believes that Marcus Smart taking on a lesser role on the Memphis Grizzlies would make the blockbuster trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Boston Celtics a win for the Grizz; that lesser role being a step back on the scoring side of the ball, by deferring to his more offensively-gifted teammates, with the focus shifting fully to the former Defensive Player of the Year's strong suits on the point-prevention side.

"Smart’s shooting woes are concerning, but Memphis having an elite defense and making a deep playoff run is the goal," Watts prefaced before saying, "If the Grizzlies are in the conference finals in 2025, this trade will quickly become a win for Memphis.

"To maximize Smart, they must get him to buy into a lesser offensive role. Let Morant, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr. do the heavy lifting on offense. The 6’3 guard should be focused on playing hard-nosed defense and making plays on both ends."

In theory, Watts is right on the money. Smart being a defensive specialist while deferring to the explosive backcourt scoring of a hopefully healthy Ja Morant and Desmond Bane, and the dominant low-post scoring of Jaren Jackson Jr., would give the Grizzlies their most effective and efficient plan of attack.

But at over $19 million next season and over $20 in 2025-26, Smart kind of has to be a source of offense for a team sitting way over the cap. Especially with Brandon Clarke, John Konchar, and Ziaire Williams eating up over $24 million in cap space.

Ex-Boston Celtics heart and soul Marcus Smart a salary steal on the right team

Smart on the Grizzlies is an awkward fit because he and Bane belong at the 2, but one of them has to play at the 3. You can't have one of your top four earners coming off the bench in the modern NBA, where bench players now tend to make minimum or just-above-minimum salaries.

Smart can probably handle limited run at the 3, but his body has been breaking down a bit in recent years. The best move for Memphis might be to find Smart a new home in hopes of finding a better fit on the wing.

Giving up on him after one year would seemingly devalue Smart, but any capable GM and coach will know how to use him.

It's just questionable if Memphis is that.