Longtime Celtic Marcus Smart is getting comfortable with his new team the Grizzlies and is already making his mark in the locker room.
“It’s been great,” Smart said at media day. “As they told you already, I’ve been talking defense in there with those guys, but you realize right away that this is a group of guys that are hungry. They want to win and are trying to get better. They’re asking me questions; we’re laughing and joking, but we’re excited.
“Just continue to be me. I’ve never been fake, and anyone who knows me understands that,” Smart said. “By doing that, it allows that genuineness to come out. Figuring out the balance and everything else will work itself out.”
Memphis’ star player Ja Morant will be serving a 25-game suspension to start the year, so Smart will be relied on heavily during his first stint with the team.
Without Ja, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane may also need to step up.
Whatever happens, head coach Taylor Jenkins knows he and his team will need to be flexible while they wait for their star to return.
“We’ve never changed our philosophy and how we want to guard, how we want to play offense,” Jenkins said. “We’re going to do a couple different things, especially offensively, where everybody has the opportunity to be a playmaker. Obviously, (Ja) is a huge part of the engine and a primary playmaker for us, but he and I talked about it as we go into camp. It’s a unique situation. I envision training camp having different starting lineups — he probably won’t be with the first group.”
Another new Grizzly, veteran Derrick Rose, has made his intentions clear about his relationship with the 24-year-old.
“I’m not here to babysit, I’m not here to follow you around, I’m not here to cheerlead,” Rose said. “I’m here to push you. In the league, there are very few opportunities where players get a chance to play with somebody that has a similar style of play. I’m very fortunate to be in a situation where a lot of people look at his game and they kind of compare our games together. But he’s on a whole other level.”
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