During the NBA offseason, a significant change took place as the Boston Celtics traded former Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart to the Memphis Grizzlies in a three-team deal that also brought former All-Star Kristaps Porzingis to Boston.
For the first time in his career, Smart finds himself facing a new challenge, playing for a team other than the Celtics. The Grizzlies, a young and determined squad, will rely on Smart, especially due to Ja Morant’s 25-game suspension. However, Smart has yet to make his preseason debut with the Grizzlies because of a core injury.
In a recent preseason game, Smart didn’t play, and head coach Taylor Jenkins stated that his status is being assessed day by day. In a subsequent conversation with reporters, Jenkins provided a slightly updated timeline for Smart’s debut with the Grizzlies.
Drew Hill from The Daily Memphian reported that Smart won’t be available for the team’s third preseason game on Thursday. However, Jenkins expects Smart to be ready for the start of the regular season on October 25 when they face the New Orleans Pelicans.
Smart has been actively participating in practice, including on-court activities and weight training. The positive news is that his abdominal pain is diminishing, indicating that he’s getting closer to practicing at full capacity.
The Grizzlies concluded the 2022-23 season with a 51-31 record, tying for the fifth-best record in the league. Despite this, they suffered an early exit in the playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons, which necessitated changes during the offseason.
The addition of Smart is a significant boost for Memphis, especially because they now have the last two Defensive Player of the Year Award winners on their roster, with Jaren Jackson Jr. in the frontcourt. In addition to his defensive prowess, Smart is known for his playmaking and facilitating abilities, having averaged a career-high 6.3 assists per game last season.
Although Smart isn’t quite ready to make his debut with the Grizzlies, it seems that he is making progress in his recovery from injury and is expected to be available when the regular season begins.