Grizzlies’ $76 million offseason acquisition predicted to ‘fit in beautifully’

Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

The Memphis Grizzlies are prepping for a 2023-24 campaign with their superstar centerpiece Ja Morant sidelined for the first 25 games as a result of a league-issued suspension.

Though his absence will certainly be felt by the franchise, over the last couple of years Taylor Jenkins’ squad has seemingly found the recipe to overcome such obstacles, as they boast a record of 31-15 since 2020-21 with the point guard out of the lineup.

On top of this, the Grizzlies boast a plus-7.9 in points per 100 possessions during this span when using co-star Jaren Jackson Jr. and budding star Desmond Bane as their go-to offensive options, which, surprisingly, is a better mark than when Morant is in tow, as they are a plus-7.2 with all three.

However, this summer GM Zach Kleiman and company opted to take things a step further when it comes to preparation for their cornerstone’s absence, as they acquired point guard Marcus Smart via trade with the Boston Celtics to ensure they had a trusty replacement option at the one as well as a veteran leader to hold this youthful club in check before and after the 24-year-old’s return.

And while people have oft been found discussing the impact the $76 million veteran will have on the Grizzlies during Morant’s absence, The Athletic’s Sam Amick recently went on record to note that Smart is a perfect overall fit with the team’s “ethos.”

Marcus Smart deemed a perfect fit for the ‘ethos’ of the Memphis Grizzlies

"“Not only does Smart’s competitive makeup fit in beautifully with the Grizzlies’ ethos, but the former Defensive Player of the Year is the kind of mature truth-teller they need right about now — and no one more so than Morant. And if the Grizzlies can avoid distractions, stay healthy and maximize this roster that remains elite, they might be “fine in the West” after all,” Amick wrote."

Smart is a three-time All-Defensive selection and the 2022 recipient of the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award who sports impressive per-game averages of 12.2 points, 6.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.6 steals over the last three seasons.

He also brings much-needed postseason experience to this talented yet rather green Grizzlies team, as he has embarked on nine separate playoff runs including five trips to the Conference Finals and, in 2022, an appearance in the NBA Finals.