3 moves Grizzlies need to make after devastating Ja Morant injury

Memphis Grizzlies v New Orleans Pelicans
Memphis Grizzlies v New Orleans Pelicans / Sean Gardner/GettyImages
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1. Trade Marcus Smart

The offseason acquisition of veteran Marcus Smart was originally celebrated as being an excellent "win now" type of move for the franchise, which was exactly the mentality they had coming into the season after finishing off the last two with a combined total of 107 wins and consecutive second-seeds in the Western Conference ranks.

With his extensive experience serving as a starter on several deep playoff teams throughout his 10-year career along with his well documented leadership skills, his addition was believed to be a perfect way to help thrust this young yet clearly talented Grizzlies team over the proverbial hump and into the legitimate title-contender conversation.

Of course, now with Morant out for the remainder of the year, these championship hopes are beyond dashed, yet Memphis is still attached to a roster and payroll that, by all accounts, presents itself as being one or two pieces away from such a lofty status which, based on their current record and placement in the standings, is far from the trajectory they should be striving for.

Assuming the Grizzlies will be focusing their attention on development and nabbing a better selection in the 2024 draft, the once glorified newcomer in Smart seems to be somewhat of an odd man out considering his age and aspirations.

As a result, this could and very well should make him a player the front office should be open to offloading at some point between now and February 8's trade deadline and, should he be shopped, point guard-needy title contenders might be willing to cough up quite a bit to attain his services.

A three-time All-Defensive First Team selection and the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year, Smart is a true difference-maker on the less glamorous side of the ball, and, since taking over as a full-time primary point guard back in 2020-21, has proven that he's more than capable of being tasked with running an offense as well.

So far into his first season in Memphis, Smart has been quite productive when on the hardwood, as he finds himself posting averages of 14.0 points, 4.5 assists, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game and, since returning from a lingering ankle injury back on December 26, has bumped up his scoring output to 16.1.

From the New York Knicks to the rival Los Angeles Lakers, there are plenty of teams that could be willing to shell out ample coin for the specific skill set and intangibles that the 29-year-old brings to the table.

Though Smart is a perfect embodiment of Grind City culture from a persona and on-court energy perspective, it's evident that the Grizzlies are punting on this season what with the Morant news. With this, instead of allowing him to waste a vital year of his prime wallowing away on a likely lottery team, Memphis might want to do right by him while also doing right by themselves.