Former Celtics guard Marcus Smart was thrown into a whole new situation for the 2023-24 season after being traded away from Boston in the offseason, and it hasn’t been easy.

That transition hasn’t gone easy.

In Memphis, the Grizzlies have been a trainwreck. Despite having two veteran Defensive Player of the Year winners — Smart and Jarren Jackson Jr. — Memphis reeks on that end of the floor, ranking 21st in defensive rating (113.7) and 23rd in rebounds (42). It’s even more difficult for Smart to watch the Celtics, from afar, reaching new heights since their departure.

“It’s been hard, especially when you’re not used to losing and with this team,” Smart told Mark Medina of Sportskeeda. “Last year, they were the No. 2 seed and were used to winning. There weren’t many games that they lost. So it’s about understanding that it’s okay that you’re losing and that you can still have fun and be happy. Things are going to be okay. For this team, it’s huge to be able to have fun and play even when things aren’t going well. When we have the right mindset, things start to go right.”

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Walking into a new locker room with a young team, while also maneuvering the multi-month suspension of its No. 1 (Ja Morant), isn’t the ideal scenario. However, it’s also no excuse to be 2-9 out the gate with a seven-game losing streak to begin the campaign.

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The presumed spread of Smart’s defensive intensity, which made the 29-year-old a fan-favorite in Boston for nearly a decade, hasn’t been contagious in Memphis. Energy is at an all-time low and while Jackson struggles to protect the glass, Smart has taken a step back himself, raising questions surrounding last season’s ankle injury which returned yet again during Tuesday night’s matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Rallying teammates wasn’t nearly an issue during Smart’s run with the Celtics, even before Boston transitioned into its Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown era. Even at the worst times with the early Brad Stevens-coached Celtics, effort on the defensive end could rarely be questioned, making the Grizzlies a challenge Smart might not be equipped to take on.

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Memphis sits at the No. 15 seed in the Western Conference 11 games in.

Featured image via Petre Thomas/USA TODAY Sports Images