Grizzlies guard tabbed as 'most likely' player to be traded this summer

Memphis Grizzlies v Phoenix Suns
Memphis Grizzlies v Phoenix Suns / Zac BonDurant/GettyImages

Nearly one year ago, the Memphis Grizzlies opted to make a bold and splashy decision to trade for defensive stalwart and established veteran leader Marcus Smart from the Boston Celtics in a blockbuster that was initially lauded by both fans and pundits alike.

With his experience both aiding in deep postseason play to leading the charge for youthful yet highly talented rosters, the guard's addition was viewed as a real win-now decision by the ball club, one that could stand to benefit this team that had just come off a 51-win campaign and their second consecutive Southwest Division title.

Fast forward 11 months later, of course, and we find that the experiment fell well short of initial expectations due, in large, to the bevy of health-related ailments the Grizzlies endured en route to their lackluster 22-55 finish on the year.

Despite these aforementioned dilemmas that, simply put, were out of the club's control, 2023-24 went so poorly to the point where some now believe Memphis may be full of regret for their initial decision to deal for Smart and, in a recent episode of Locked on Grizzlies, analyst Joe Mullinax made the argument that the 30-year-old could now very well be the "most likely" player to be traded.

Marcus Smart seen as 'most likely' Grizzlies player to be traded

"Roster fit [and] value in trade, those are some of the major reasons why I think Smart may be the most moveable. To be honest with you, the third reason, we haven't seen it all together, but it just seems like something's off... It seems like the way Smart is perceiving Memphis, maybe the immaturity of the Grizzlies which was pretty prevalent -- Ja Morant's actions, whether you agree with them or disagree with him [in] thinking the suspension was too intense, we can at the very least agree that he was immature. Maybe Smart wants to go to a Milwaukee or even a Cleveland because he thinks they're further along in that maturity process. I'm not saying he's right, but what if all that has transpired has soured Smart on the Memphis experience?"

Joe Mullinax

Like the rest of the team, Smart was hobbled by injuries throughout the vast majority of his debut campaign with the Grizzlies, as he was held to just 20 games played and never quite got the opportunity to show his true value to the team.

Even when active, like Mullinax suggested, it never seemed as if the veteran found a way to fit into the scheme and among his new running mates as many had hoped he would upon his arrival.

Despite his quality intangibles that could stand to benefit virtually any championship hopeful, Smart is a nitty-gritty combo guard who has nabbed his lucrative career earnings thanks to his hustle and efforts put forth on the defensive side of the ball. Memphis, though known for its grit and grind history, has proven to be at its best with this current iteration when accompanied by a table-setting floor general who can run the offense when superstar Ja Morant is out of the lineup.

Smart is many things, but a floor general he is not.

Add on the fact that, heading into his 11 season in the association, the combo guard may not be interested in being part of a more jovial, less business-oriented unit like Memphis and, instead, might be solely looking to claim his first-ever title, and perhaps there's more logic behind a parting of ways between the franchise and the vet than many aside from Mullinax may currently believe.