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In trading Marcus Smart in a three-team deal, acquiring Kristaps Porzingis while the former Defensive Player of the Year takes his talents to Memphis, the Celtics are making a three-pronged gamble.

One element of its wager involves an internal hope and belief from the organization that as Smart, who's been the heart and soul of the team, unites with Ja Morant on the Grizzlies, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown take even more ownership and step into the leadership void his departure creates.


Maybe Boston's bet pays off, and they raise Banner 18 to the rafters high above the TD Garden parquet. But when Smart arrived, the franchise was in the early stages of its rebuild after its modern big three, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, led them to a championship.

The Celtics went 25 and 57 the year before the former Oklahoma State Cowboy arrived. But in his nine years in Boston, the team never missed the playoffs.

According to Michael Pina from The Ringer, Smart's never had a season with a negative net rating, meaning every year of his career, the team outscored their opponent with him on the court.


As Brad Stevens told Smart in a face-to-face conversation the day after the former traded him, "The greatest legacy that you can leave is to be someplace, and it's better off because you were there."

Discussing his decision on the heels of the draft, the Celtics' president of basketball operations got choked up while expressing, "Everybody loved the way that he plays, and how hard he plays, but also his work in the community. We're all really grateful to have had Marcus in our life for as long as we've had."

Smart, who spent the first nine years of his career in Boston, took tremendous pride in being the longest-tenured player on the team, conveying the following to Inside The Celtics during a wide-ranging interview shortly before getting traded.

"I've always played the game of basketball the same way, leaving it all out on the court each and every time I play because you never know when it's your last time playing. My mom instilled that in me at a young age. It has gotten me this far, so I won't be changing that now. My teammates feed off my energy. As the longest-tenured Celtic, I feel like it's my responsibility to continue to play "Celtics basketball." Continue to get my rehab each and every day, eat healthily and strive for greatness."


Friday, at his introductory press conference with the Grizzlies in Las Vegas, where the NBA world has converged for Summer League, Smart said, having never been to the East Coast before getting drafted by a franchise residing there, arriving in Boston at 19, it was a "culture shock."

Having grown into adulthood in his adopted city, the Celtics' former floor general stated, "Boston is my second home, so it's been tough, and they're always going to have a place in my heart. And (with) everything I've accomplished, I left everything I had wearing that jersey out on that court.

"And although we didn't win a championship in the big scheme of things, I don't consider my time there a failure. I helped rebuild that team at the time, when I came in, and I left it better in that sense, so I'm very ecstatic with my time there."

Further Reading

Evaluating Celtics' Options in Free Agency

Celtics Sign Second-Round Pick Jordan Walsh

Celtics Reportedly Not Pursuing Damian Lillard

Celtics Losing Grant Williams in Sign-and-Trade Demonstrates Intention of NBA's New CBA

NBA Insider Says Multi-Team Deal Could Get Damian Lillard to the Heat

The Latest on Celtics' Negotiations with Jaylen Brown

Marcus Smart Wants It Known There's No Beef Between Him and Jaylen Brown: 'We're Brothers'

Jayson Tatum Reportedly Recruiting Damian Lillard to Join Celtics

Brad Stevens Discusses Difficult Decision to Trade Marcus Smart: 'He'll Always Have Boston'

Celtics Sign Forward Oshae Brissett

Celtics Reportedly Interested in Signing Terence Davis