Joe Mazzulla went into detail about the Boston Celtics' loss of their longest-tenured player, Marcus Smart, this past offseason ahead of the C's February 4 matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies at the TD Garden.
“I always said you don’t replace a guy like him, you just find different ways to be able to do it,” Mazzulla said (h/t Boston.com). "Who he is will always be etched into the City of Boston because of what he’s done in community service and what he’s done here, which is helping represent and give. I think he’s one of the guys that started our defensive foundation before I got here because of his ability to compete at a high level, to defend at a high level and execute different coverages.
“Who he is off the court and kind of what he brings from a mind-set standpoint and a defensive intensity standpoint. It’ll be good to see him tomorrow.”
Jayson Tatum heartbroken about Marcus Smart's Boston Celtics departure
When I spoke to Jayson Tatum on January 22, the All-NBA forward gave the longest answer to any of my questions when talking about what life was like without Smart on the Celtics since the June 2023 trade.
“Man, you never can replace somebody like Smart," Tatum said. "He spent 9 years—10 years or so—in Boston, you know? He was my teammate for the first six. Without a doubt, he was the most loved Celtic on the team, right? His passion, his toughness, how hard he played night in and night out. He literally gave everything he had. And just his personality, man. I love Smart to death.
"Still a great friend of mine went to his wedding this summer. So just on that level, we've been through so much together as friends and teammates that, just on a personal level, you know, we for sure miss him, right? That's always tough when you just spend so much time with somebody and they get traded and move on. That’s never easy.”
The loss is one the team has clearly all felt, and ones fans have seen as hard to ignore. It will be years, possibly until the end of Smart's career and possibly past that, until anyone will feel closure about the situation.
Unless he returns. Which should absolutely be seen as on the table.