Marcus Smart

Southwest Notes: Brooks, Smart, Spurs, Player Participation

The Rockets and Grizzlies made some of the splashiest moves of the summer, with Houston inking Dillon Brooks to a four-year deal worth up to $90MM and Memphis trading for longtime Celtic Marcus Smart. The Athletic’s Kelly Iko takes a closer look at both team’s additions and what fans can expect from each player.

Brooks’ play in the first round of the playoffs left much to be desired, as he averaged 10.5 points on 31.2% shooting. That led to some questions surrounding the large sum of his contract, but the Rockets knew what they were getting in the veteran forward, according to Iko.

Houston’s defensive rating hasn’t ranked above 27th in the league in the past three seasons and Brooks, a talented perimeter defender, will help address that concern, Iko writes. Brooks’ stint with the Canadian National Team at the World Cup also showed glimpses of what he can be, and he could end up having success in isolation on offense, according to Iko.

As for Smart and the Grizzlies, Iko writes that it’s a match made in heaven in terms of approach and attitude, with Smart pairing nicely with the “grit and grind” mentality of Memphis. He’s a proven commodity on the defensive end and had a career year distributing the ball last year (6.3 APG) and should help fill the void left by Tyus Jones (traded) and Ja Morant (suspension).

Iko also takes a look at what he expects Memphis’ rotation to look like to begin the year, with Smart starting next to Desmond Bane, David Roddy, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Steven Adams in his exercise. Derrick Rose, Luke Kennard, John Konchar, Santi Aldama and Xavier Tillman would be the first five off the bench in that scenario.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • After waiving Cameron Payne, the Spurs have 17 players under guaranteed standard contracts, two over the regular season limit of 15. San Antonio Express-News’ Jeff McDonald is not expecting any more players to be waived before training camps begin, suggesting that the plan is to have all 17 compete for a spot (Twitter link). Cedi Osman, Khem Birch, Devonte’ Graham and Charles Bassey are among the players who could be the odd men out.
  • The NBA’s new rules on player participation and resting stars will greatly benefit fans who want to come see their favorite star players, writes Rod Walker of Walker points to the fact that Golden State superstar Stephen Curry hasn’t played in Smoothie King Arena (the home of the Pelicans) since the end of the 2020/21 season, meaning Warriors fans in New Orleans haven’t been able to see their favorite players for several years. The star players affected by this policy must have been named to an All-Star Game or All-NBA Team in the last three seasons, meaning Zion Williamson is subject to the rule but Brandon Ingram is not. Ingram, or any other New Orleans player, would be affected if they were named to an All-Star Game this upcoming season.
  • In case you missed it, the Rockets are attempting to trade Kevin Porter Jr. before training camp.

Jayson Tatum Wants To Be On Celtics’ “Mount Rushmore”

In an interview with Jeff Goodman of The Messenger, Jayson Tatum talks about his desire to add his name to the long list of Celtics legends.

Tatum is off to a strong start, with nearly 10,000 career points, four All-Star appearances and several long playoff runs by age 25. But he understands that being an all-time great in Boston requires championship banners, and he hopes to win a few of those before he’s done.

“I would love to be on the Mount Rushmore of Celtics,” Tatum says.(Larry) Bird, (Bill) Russell, Paul Pierce and those guys. They paved the way. The one thing all those guys have is chips. I have to get to the top of the mountain to even be considered as one of those guys. I want to be an all-time great, I want to be known as a winner, and I believe I will be.”

A year ago, the Celtics appeared to be in a strong position to win their 18th title as they prepared to report to training camp. They were coming off a tough Finals loss to the Warriors and had added Danilo Gallinari to an already impressive roster.

Things began to unravel when head coach Ime Udoka was suspended on September 22. Gallinari suffered an ACL tear that wound up sidelining him for the entire season, and an injury kept Robert Williams out for the early part of the year.

“It was a lot, a lot to process and deal with,” Tatum said. “And I give us credit, we came together. I think it brought us together as a team. We had the second-best record. We could have had every excuse to start off slow and make excuses.”

Tatum touches on several other topics in the lengthy interview:

On head coach Joe Mazzulla, who was frequently the target of criticism, especially as Boston fell behind 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals:

“I think it was unfair. I don’t know what more Joe could have done. He wasn’t out there turning the ball over and missing free throws. That was us.”

On the loss of Marcus Smart, who was sent to Memphis in the Kristaps Porzingis trade and had been the team leader since Tatum arrived in 2017:

“I am for sure going to miss Smart. He was my teammate for six years and we’ve been through it all. We had good moments together, we had bad moments together. He’s somebody that I wish was going be my teammate forever.”

On the record-setting five-year, super-max extension that Jaylen Brown received this summer:

“I was excited for Jaylen, and I wasn’t surprised. That was a no-brainer for me because he deserves it. He had a hell of a year, the best year of his career, and he was rewarded for that. It was the right time. People make a big deal of $300 million. The NBA makes a lot of money. Contracts will be $350 and then $370 million. That’s the way it’s going. I was happy for him. I knew it was going to happen, it was a no-brainer, but I still reached out to him and told him he should be proud of himself and his family. Don’t take it for granted. This is generational.”

On his own NBA future and whether he wants to spend his entire career with one team:

“Just recently I started to feel the connection with Boston. I have spent my adult life here, my son has grown up here, I’ve grown up here. I’ve accomplished so many things. … You never know what can happen, but I love playing for the Celtics. I figured out my space in the city and have grown to really enjoy it. I love the fans. It would be really hard to leave this place.”

Grizzlies Notes: Morant, Kennard, Smart, Schedule

The Grizzlies, like every team in the league, released their schedule for the 2023/24 season on Thursday. This year’s schedule is particularly crucial to the Grizzlies, who are without star guard Ja Morant for the first 25 games of the season. Morant was suspended after a video surfaced of the Grizzlies star with a firearm earlier this summer.

We now know when we should expect Morant’s return: Dec. 19. That date marks the first game in which Morant is eligible to return from his suspension, a matchup in New Orleans against the Pelicans. The game between the two Southwest Division foes will be nationally televised on TNT.

Memphis finished each of the past two years as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, but Morant didn’t play more than 61 games in either season. The Grizzlies went 20-5 in 2021/22 and 11-10 in ’22/23 without Morant, though the play of former guard Tyus Jones helped allay any concerns about the play of the point guard position. Jones is now a member of the Wizards.

We have more from the Grizzlies:

  • Being without Morant for an extended period of time means the Grizzlies have questions to answer about their rotation. Unlike previous seasons, Jones isn’t there to help take the reins of the point. Dillon Brooks also departed in free agency, leaving Memphis with several possibilities to flesh out the rotation. The Commercial Appeal’s Damichael Cole writes that Luke Kennard is the safest fit to join the starting lineup.
  • Cole notes that players like David Roddy and Ziaire Williams, for example, might be more natural fits from a positional standpoint, but Kennard’s shooting is a known commodity while Roddy, Williams and others are younger and aren’t as projectable. Lineups including both Kennard and fellow Grizzlies wing Desmond Bane had a net rating of +33 and an effective field goal percentage of 59.9% last year in their first round series against the Lakers. Cole also sees Kennard as a good fit next to Marcus Smart, who will join the starting lineup after being acquired this offseason.
  • Smart’s first game as a visitor against the Celtics is on Feb. 4 on ESPN. Smart spent the first nine years of his NBA career in Boston before being traded this offseason in a move that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the C’s. Before being moved, Smart was the longest-tenured Celtic and only Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Draymond Green, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry had spent as much or more time than Smart did with the team that drafted them.
  • In case you missed it, the Grizzlies open up the season at home against the Pelicans. Memphis has 13 nationally televised games in ’23/24.

Celtics Notes: Tatum, Smart, White, Brogdon, Porzingis

Appearing at a PGA pro-am event Wednesday in Memphis, Jayson Tatum promised Grizzlies fans that they’re going to love having Marcus Smart on their team (video link from The Memphis Commercial Appeal).

After spending nine years with the Celtics, Smart was shipped to Memphis in a three-team trade to acquire Kristaps Porzingis. Smart provided a fiery presence in Boston, both on and off the court, and Tatum said he’ll bring those same qualities to the Grizzlies.

“They’re getting a leader,” Tatum said. “They’re getting a guy who’s a winner, who’s been to the playoffs every year. We’ve been to the Finals together obviously, so he knows what it takes to get there. Obviously extremely talented, the best defender in the league. He’s just a guy that you love to have on your team.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • The Celtics addressed a major offseason priority when they signed Jaylen Brown to a super-max extension, but they have more extension decisions to make, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Around the start of October, Derrick White will be eligible for a three-year extension that could be worth up to $85.3MM. White is projected to take over as the starting point guard with Smart gone, and he’s coming off a second-team All-Defensive nod last season. If the Celtics want to extend White this year, they’ll have until opening night to finalize a deal with the veteran guard, who has two more years on his current contract. Malcolm Brogdon will also become extension-eligible, Himmelsbach notes, but he believes a new contract is less likely considering Brogdon’s age and injury history, along with the six-month trade trade restriction that comes with an extension.
  • Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck is a supporter of the new mid-season tournament and hopes his team can reach the finals in Las Vegas, Himmelsbach adds. “I’m a big international soccer fan, and I see they’ve got three trophies they can go for every year,” Grousbeck said. “So I’m already looking forward to it. I like having something new for guys to play for during the fall and give fans something to watch. Let’s see how it goes.”
  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic looks at the lineup options that Porzingis will provide for head coach Joe Mazzulla. The Celtics will have a much taller starting five and can experiment with a twin towers approach with Porzingis playing alongside Robert Williams. Weiss also envisions Porzingis and Tatum being effective with the second unit while Brown is resting.

Western Notes: Jackson, Smart, Hughes, Pokusevski, Thunder

Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr., the NBA’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, says he’s excited to team up with Marcus Smart, who won the award in 2022, writes Jerry Jiang of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Smart was acquired from the Celtics last month in a three-team trade, and Jackson reached out to him when the news broke.

That doesn’t happen pretty often or ever,” Jackson said, referring to a team having two DPOY winners at the same time. “I just know what he brings to Boston. I’ve seen it before I was in the league and it’s crazy.”

Here’s more from the West:

  • The Mavericks intend to hire Eric Hughes as an assistant coach, sources tell Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). Hughes got his NBA start as an assistant with Toronto and previously worked under head coach Jason Kidd with the Nets and Bucks, MacMahon notes. He has been with the Sixers for the past four seasons.
  • Thunder big man Aleksej Pokusevski won’t be able to represent his native Serbia in the FIBA World Cup next month, according to The 17th pick of the 2020 draft, Pokusevski suffered a broken arm during an offseason workout at the end of May and won’t receive medical clearance to train with a basketball until late August, the report states. The World Cup starts August 25 and runs through September 10. The 21-year-old was hoping to secure a spot on the Serbian national team’s 12-man roster.
  • In a mailbag for The Oklahoman, Joe Mussatto predicts that Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Victor Oladipo, Jack White, Usman Garuba and TyTy Washington are the the most likely players to be on the chopping block due to the Thunder‘s roster crunch. However, Mussatto notes that OKC has a few months to figure things out and more trades could be in order rather than outright waiving all five players.

Celtics Notes: Brown, Smart, Porzingis, Brogdon, White

After signing his extension on Wednesday, Jaylen Brown reflected on the changes the Celtics have undergone since losing in the conference finals, writes Brian Robb of MassLive. The most significant move was sending Marcus Smart to Memphis in a three-team trade to acquire Kristaps Porzingis. Brown said that even though he and Smart clashed frequently over the years, things won’t be the same without his “brother” and one of his best friends on the team.

“Marcus has been somebody that’s, like, we butted heads at times, we fought, we did it all, we put each other in headlocks, etc.,” Brown said. “The journey won’t feel the same without him to be honest. But it’s a part of life, it’s a part of what you do going forward and everything he’s instilled into this organization, everything he’s instilled into this community is still going to be with us, still carried with us. So we’re going to wish him well on his new journey. Obviously the city of Boston is going to feel the loss of his impact when he’s no longer here, but we’ll be able to keep moving forward.”

Brown indicated that he understands why the deal was made and he sees the benefit of having a versatile big man like Porzingis. However, he wants to make sure the Celtics don’t lose the intensity and commitment to defense that Smart inspired.

“I think what Kristaps can bring to us defensively and the additions some of our other guys can bring to us defensively,” Brown said. “… With Marcus gone, we don’t want our defensive identity to go out the door as well, so we have to really emphasize that at the start of training camp.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Brown wasn’t upset that it took more than three weeks to work out his extension, Robb adds in a separate story. Some of that delay was due to an overseas trip that Brown took as part of his duties as an NBPA vice president, but much of the time was needed to reach an agreement on non-monetary details. “I thought from my standpoint, they understood where I came from, I understood where he came from,” Brown said. “It was all about being in the place where it made sense for everybody and I was glad that we were able to finish it, get everything done and be able to have the community here.”
  • The Celtics are going through a “healing process” and a “listening process” with Malcolm Brogdon, coach Joe Mazzulla told Souichi Terada of MassLive. It appeared Brogdon was going to be moved in an early version of the Porzingis trade, but that changed when the Clippers pulled out because they didn’t have time to review Brogdon’s medical records before Porzingis picked up his option.
  • Mazzulla confirmed that Derrick White will replace Smart as the starting point guard, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.

Southwest Notes: Wembanyama, Smart, GG Jackson, Samuels

Victor Wembanyama was the biggest star in Las Vegas Friday night, but his performance didn’t match the hype leading up to his Summer League debut, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. With NBA legends such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West watching as part of a sold-out arena, Wembanyama looked more like a 19-year-old adjusting to a new league than a future superstar.

The top pick in this year’s draft scored just nine points while shooting 2-of-13 from the field as the Spurs topped the Hornets. He blocked five shots, showing his potential dominance on defense, but Vorkunov notes that he also had trouble dealing with the physicality of NBA players and was posterized by Charlotte’s Kai Jones.

“Honestly, I didn’t really know what I was doing on the court tonight,” Wembanyama told reporters after the game. “But (I’m) getting ready for the next games. The important thing is to be ready for next season.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Marcus Smart admits being shocked upon learning that he had been traded to the Grizzlies, but he’s looking forward to becoming part of the team’s “Grind City” tradition, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Memphis general manager Zach Kleiman feels fortunate to be able to acquire Smart after the original version of a three-team deal sending Kristaps Porzingis to the Celtics fell apart. “We’re looking for someone who can be the lockdown defender, versatile across positions,” Kleiman said. “We’re looking for more playmaking. We’re looking for someone who’s battle-tested at the highest levels of the NBA. (We were able) to find someone — and I don’t think there’s many players in the NBA and I think Marcus is the very best of them — who kind of checks all those boxes. But much more importantly, somebody who also just passes the gut test. Marcus is someone that is just a flat-out winner.”
  • The Grizzlies plan to start GG Jackson on a two-way contract, but his Summer League performance suggests he might soon be headed for a standard deal, suggests Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. The second-round pick is averaging 13.7 PPG in his first three games and is coming off a 23-point, 10-rebound outing Thursday night.
  • Free agent forward Jermaine Samuels has impressed Rockets officials in practice and could be a candidate for a roster spot or a two-way deal, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Celtics Rumors: Brown, Lillard, G. Williams, Tatum, Johnson

Just because the Celtics and Jaylen Brown didn’t immediately agree to a super-max extension once he became eligible on July 1 doesn’t mean anything is amiss, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (subscriber link). Sources tell Himmselsbach that the Celtics aren’t shopping Brown and don’t plan to low-ball him once they begin negotiating.

Himmselsbach reiterates a point that other reporters have made, that Boston might push for some incentives in the deal, but there’s still an expectation that Brown will eventually receive and sign his super-max at some point. The two sides are expected to discuss the massive extension on Friday during Las Vegas Summer League, Himmselsbach adds.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Boston has accumulated several draft picks via trade this offseason, leading to speculation the Celtics could be looking for a major deal. However, although the team eventually plans to cash in on its draft equity for a “seismic strike,” such a move appears unlikely this offseason, sources tell Himmelsbach.
  • According to Himmselsbach, the Celtics aren’t pursuing Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard and don’t intend to get involved in that situation unless they find something favorable as part of a multi-team deal. ESPN recently reported that Boston “expressed some interest” in the All-NBA guard.
  • While the Celtics valued Grant Williams, they recognized that his role was in flux after acquiring Kristaps Porzingis, whose acquisition came as a surprise to the organization, sources tell Himmselsbach. Williams wanted an opportunity for consistent playing time which Boston couldn’t guarantee, and that factored into Brad Stevens‘ decision to agree to sign-and-trade Williams to Dallas.
  • The Celtics are willing to exceed the second tax apron in the future and still project to be a taxpayer, but retaining Williams on the contract he received would have added $40MM to the tax bill. Boston didn’t think that made sense financially, given his uncertain role, says Himmelbach.
  • Losing Marcus Smart (as part of the Porzingis trade) and Williams will leave a leadership and toughness void, according to Himmselsbach. However, the Celtics expect stars Brown and Jayson Tatum to fill that void. The team felt the two wings deferred to Smart at times in key moments, but obviously that will change.
  • Tatum was close to Williams, but he understood the team’s decision to move the restricted free agent and is focused on improving the team’s roster, sources tell Himmelsbach.
  • Free agent forward Alize Johnson will workout for the Celtics this week, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The five-year NBA veteran played four games for the Spurs in 2022/23.

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Porzingis, Petrusev, VanVleet

Longtime Celtics guard Marcus Smart had a conversation with team president Brad Stevens in mid-June and was assured at that time that he’d remain with the team this summer, Smart tells Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. A week later, he was gone, having been traded to the Grizzlies as part of a three-team package to send Kristaps Porzingis to Boston.

“It was a shock,” Smart said. “My agent called my fiancée and she woke me up out of a sleep, literally, right after the deal had been made and I think [the media] had already tweeted it out. That’s how we found out.”

The Celtics had originally intended to include another guard, Malcolm Brogdon, as part of a three-team deal with the Clippers that would have landed them Porzingis. However, those talks fell through, forcing Boston to pivot to the deal sending Smart to Memphis. Smart said he understands it’s a “business” and has no hard feelings toward the organization, even if he didn’t learn about his exit in the way he would’ve liked.

“Anybody who knows me knows that I’m the first one to tell people, you can’t put personal with business, it just doesn’t mix,” he said. “… But for me, it was just the [lack of] courtesy. They probably already knew they were thinking about trading me. They had this trade in their back pocket just in case something else didn’t happen.”

Smart enjoyed a solid run with the Celtics, even earning Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2022 en route to an NBA Finals appearance. His defense slipped somewhat in 2022/23, but he remain a valuable two-way leader on a club that wound up being just one win shy of a second consecutive Finals.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The two-year, $60MM extension Porzingis is finalizing with the Celtics could become as a massive monetary coup for Boston, argues Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. The reported deal, which will begin in 2024/25, is worth $17MM less than the maximum possible extension Porzingis could have signed off his current contract, and Forsberg believes a strong season would have put the big man in position to command even more money had he reached unrestricted free agency next summer. Porzingis enjoyed one of his healthiest seasons in years and was fairly effective with the Wizards on both sides of the hardwood in ’22/23.
  • Two years after being drafted with the No. 50 pick out of Gonzaga by the Sixers, big man Filip Petrusev is confident he can produce at the NBA level, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Following his selection in the draft, the 6’11” center suited up for teams in Turkey and Belgrade. Petrusev, who will play on Philadelphia’s summer league club this month, is hoping to ink a deal with the Sixers for the 2023/24 season.
  • Longtime Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet, who won a title with Toronto in 2019, is moving on to the Rockets on a lucrative new contract. He penned a heartfelt farewell missive to the team on his official Instagram. “I am forever indebted to the franchise that gave me a shot when no one else would,” VanVleet wrote. “We built things together that can never be broken and accomplished things that will stand forever… To the city, franchise and country that watched me grow… THANK YOU.”

Warriors Rumors: Green, DiVincenzo, Kuminga, Poole, Paul, Thompson

The Warriors are optimistic about re-signing Draymond Green and have been discussing a three-year deal with his representatives, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype and Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Slater says trading for Chris Paul was a win-now move that the team wouldn’t have made without a level of confidence that Green will return. He projects a new contract for Green starting close to the range of the $27.6MM player option that he declined, but adds that every $1MM the Warriors can save is important because of their inflated tax bill.

There may not have been a realistic market for Green in free agency, Scotto adds. The Kings were floated as a possibility because their head coach is former Warriors assistant Mike Brown, but Scotto points out that they’re hoping to sign Kyle Kuzma and had to work out a new deal with Harrison Barnes. The Pistons and Grizzlies were also mentioned, but Slater states that Memphis dropped out of consideration with the Marcus Smart trade.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Donte DiVincenzo is expected to sign elsewhere and may be able to land a non-taxpayer MLE, which would be more than twice what Golden State can offer him, according to Scotto. Sources tell C.J. Holmes of The San Franciso Chronicle that the Knicks have emerged as the favorite to land DiVincenzo, who prefers to play on the East Coast and is hoping to receive a contract starting at $9-12MM. However, Scotto isn’t convinced that DiVincenzo would be a good fit in New York considering the number of guards already on the roster.
  • The Pacers were among the teams that inquired on Jonathan Kuminga, offering mainly draft assets in return, sources tell Scotto. Slater also cites interest from the Raptors and says Golden State began asking about OG Anunoby before the trade deadline. However, Slater doesn’t believe the Warriors have been shopping Kuminga, saying the organization still has confidence in him and he’ll likely be on the team when next season begins.
  • The decision to part with Jordan Poole in the trade for Paul was necessary to unload his contract, but coach Steve Kerr welcomed the chance to move on from a player who was fourth in the league in turnovers last season and often took poor shots, Slater states. Slater envisions Paul as the leader of the second unit, helping to develop young players such as Kuminga and Moses Moody.
  • Getting rid of Poole’s contract increases the chances for a Klay Thompson extension, according to Slater. Paul’s $30MM salary for 2024/25 is non-guaranteed, so more long-term money is available for Thompson. Slater doesn’t believe the Warriors have started negotiating a salary with Thompson yet, but he expects the veteran guard will have to accept a reduction from his current $43MM.