The Boston Celtics traded Marcus Smart to the Memphis Grizzlies this week, ending a nine-season partnership with the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
As arguably the team’s most vocal member, Smart’s departure will likely leave a leadership void behind.
Although Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are objectively better overall players, neither has the sort of “take charge” personality that Smart has come to be known for.
On Thursday evening, Tatum took to social media to offer his reaction to Smart getting dealt.
“My dawg Forever grateful for you and how you pushed me and helped me along this journey,” he wrote.
“Never change keep being you, one of a kind can never be replaced! My brotha for life. We gone link back up one day and get us one no doubt about that! Until then, Much love Brodie!”
Understandably, given what Smart meant to the Celtics, league-wide reactions to his departure were fairly dramatic.
“They are changing the shape of their team in making this trade, but they are also admitting that the shape of their team wasn’t a championship team,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on ‘First Take’ on Thursday.
“The way that their mix didn’t work. One of the things about that team — and I don’t think it’s because of Marcus — for some reason that team has focus problems. They also have a bit of a roster balance problem.”
According to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, Smart views the Celtics’ decision to trade him as “a gut punch” and is in “complete shock” over it.
Smart was never one to shy away from calling out his own teammates.
Zach Wilson is having himself quite the NFL offseason.https://t.co/EbfU3ggD3i
— Game 7 (@game7__) June 23, 2023
Whether the Celtics will miss having that sort of accountability in the locker room remains to be seen.
Either way, clearly Brad Stevens felt like the current roster wasn’t capable of winning a championship. And despite Tatum’s kind words in the aftermath, if he felt any differently, this trade wouldn’t have happened.
Will Tatum and the Celtics ultimately be better off without Smart? Time will tell.