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Boston Celtics fans still haven’t gotten over the fact Marcus Smart is no longer with the team. After nine seasons, the veteran guard was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of a three-team deal that brought Kristaps Porzingis to Boston.

Smart has been the heart and soul of the team since the Celtics drafted him with the sixth overall pick in 2014. His intensity, tenacity, and vocal leadership will be sorely missed. What player will step up and take on that leadership role?

Marcus Smart brought energy to an otherwise low-key Boston Celtics team

Marcus Smart may not have been the most talented player on the Boston Celtics, but he was the most intense. Nobody worked harder or wanted to win more than the 6-foot-4 point guard from Oklahoma State.

Sure, Smart took some ill-advised shots and picked up unnecessary technical fouls, but the fire was always there. In his goodbye post to Celtics fans that he posted on social media Friday, Smart credited his late mother for that intensity.

“I came to Boston as a naive kid from Dallas, not really knowing what to expect,” Smart wrote. “All I knew was the type of work ethic my momma instilled in me, and I was going to work my ass off and make sure I EARNED the respect of each and every one of the fans in Boston.”

He did just that.

Whether it was taking a charge or diving for a loose ball, Smart gave everything he had. He wasn’t the most gifted player offensively, so what did he do? He went out and won Defensive Player of the Year. Smart always found a way to get things done.

Who will step up and take over for Smart in the leadership department?


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On paper, the Celtics improved their team with the trade. They were guard-heavy, and one or more had to go. Reportedly, the Celtics had a three-team deal in place that had Malcolm Brogdon headed to the Clippers instead of Smart going to the Grizzlies. Brogdon injured his forearm during the postseason, and that injury concerned the Clippers.

The Celtics quickly reworked the deal, getting the Grizzlies involved. With Brogdon’s injury limiting his trade value, the Celtics moved Smart. In all, the Celtics received Porzingis and two first-round draft picks. At 7-foot-3, Porzingis gives Boston another scoring threat and a strong inside defensive presence. He makes them a more balanced team. The Celtics lost Smart, Mike Muscala, Danilo Gallinari, and their 2023 second-round pick.

They also lost their leadership. With Smart out of the picture, who fills that void?

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, two soon-to-be supermax players, should be the ones to step up, but neither comes close to bringing the drive that Smart has. They are two talented players but lack emotion on the court.

Grant Williams has that fire, but he’s also likely to find another home for the 2023-24 season.

The Celtics are now a bunch of quiet guys who can get things done on a talent level, but who gets the team going when it needs a spark? Who takes charge? Al Horford? Brogdon? Derrick White?

Again, on the court, the Celtics should be better off after the deal. They needed size and balance, and they got both. Now, they need a true leader.