‘Just a guy you would love to have on your team’

The 2023-24 regular season will mark the first time Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum plays NBA basketball without defensive stalwart Marcus Smart as his teammate. Prior to being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies earlier this summer, Smart had spent nine years with the Celtics after being drafted by the team back in 2014.

By the time Tatum joined the club in 2017, the Flower Mound native had already established himself on the team as a leader on and off the court. Smart is now headed to Memphis as part of a larger deal that shipped former All-Star Kristaps Porzingis up to Boston.

And while the Celtics and the Grizzlies now have a chance to make a splash on the court, the players in both locker rooms are likely still processing some of the emotion that comes with such a surprising trade.

In a recent conversation with the Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Demichael Cole at the FedEx St. Jude Championship gold pro-am, Tatum spoke about his relationship with Smart and how he feels about the transition.

“Sad to see him go,” Tatum said, “but happy for him to get a new start and excited to see what he does.”

Back in June, Tatum shared a long post on Instagram, sharing his admiration and love for Smart.

For his part, Smart spoke highly of Tatum and Jaylen Brown, calling them both his “brothers for life.”

With the benefit of time, however, it looks as if Tatum is ready to consider the basketball side of the equations. He told Cole he believes Smart’s experience and leadership can help Memphis make a deep run next season.

“He knows what it takes to get (to the NBA Finals),” Tatum said. “Obviously he’s extremely talented. Best defender in the league. Just a guy you would love to have on your team.”

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Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire

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