Easily the two biggest offseason storylines regarding the Memphis Grizzlies have been the unfortunate 25-game suspension handed out to superstar Ja Morant due to off-court antics and the blockbuster trade that brought Marcus Smart over from Beantown to Grind City.
Saturday, July 8, the veteran touched on both subjects during his introductory press conference and specifically discussed the importance of building a relationship with the club’s franchise cornerstone.
“It’s huge. Ja is a very special player. Very important to this team. For us to do anything great we’re going to need Ja and we’re going to need Ja the best he can be,” Smart said. “For me, as a competitor, I love to push guys to the limit. Especially a guy who’s great. I’ve done it over in Boston with those guys, those are my brothers. I want to be able to have the same relationship with Ja. Like I said, he’s a great player and we’re going to need him to do what we want to do.”
As far as the type of advice he’ll be looking to share with his new Grizzlies teammates, the idea is rather simple: “Control what you can control.”
“For me, I know as competitors we put ourselves high and we have this goal that we want to reach and if we don’t reach it we consider ourselves as failures — individually and as a team. But you can’t let that sink in, especially when you got a team who are so close [to being a title contender]. Control what you can control. On the court, off the court. Whatever that is to make sure you can bring and be the best you can be for this team,” Smart said.
Throughout his nine years with the Boston Celtics, Marcus Smart was often found referred to as the “heart and soul” of the organization and displayed leadership qualities that youngsters such as sophomore guard JD Davison have noted have been attributes they look to emulate to grow as a pro.
Now, with this young Grizzlies core, the hope is that these abilities can now be felt in the locker room and rub off on the players as they look to make the jump from being a promising team to a legitimate title contender.
As Smart noted on multiple occasions during his presser, he feels as though Memphis is “so close.”