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Farewell and thank you, Marcus Smart

Why Celtics traded Marcus Smart, and what C's hope to get from Kristaps Porzingis
Why Celtics traded Marcus Smart, and what C's hope to get from Kristaps Porzingis 02:38

BOSTON -- There was excitement in the moments after Adrian Wojnarowski announced late Wednesday night that the Celtics had found a way to pull off a Kristaps Porzingis trade. That excitement turned to shock a few moments later when the ESPN insider reported that it was Marcus Smart leaving town as part of the trade package.

Marcus Smart. The longest-tenured member of the Boston Celtics. The team's floor general the last few seasons, and leader in grit, heart, and hustle plays over his nine-year stay with the franchise. Boston made the playoffs every season since drafting Smart sixth overall in 2014.

No one embraced being a Celtic more than Marcus Smart, and Celtics fans loved him for it. (The majority of Celtics fans, that is.) While his tendency to take hero shots in all the wrong moments was certainly frustrating, there is no denying that Smart was the best passer and best playmaker on the team. He was the connective tissue that would step up and be a leader on a team that doesn't have many players who want to embrace such a role. Now it's up to Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown to finally step into those shoes.

Smart was a damn fun player to watch if he was on your side, someone who made you want to run through a wall or 12 because he was willing to do the same. That was the fire that Smart showed on the court every night.

The Celtics highlighted that fact Wednesday morning. Roughly twelve hours later, it was gone.

Such is life in professional sports.

It's a gut-punch both on the court and off. Smart was a fixture in the community, whether he was running camps or spending time with pediatric cancer patients. He did everything with a smile on his face and with the same fire that he showed on the court for the Celtics. He didn't just show up for his community events and programs; Smart always wanted to be there, and he loved every second of it.

Removing the emotion from the transaction, it's a good move for the Celtics. Brad Stevens got an extremely talented player in Porzingis who can stretch the floor even more while also adding a post presence that will take pressure off Robert Williams and the aging Al Horford. The unicorn's offensive game will alleviate some of the pressure on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown every night. Porzingis can also defend the pick-and-roll, something the Celtics were allergic to last season.

Stevens also got a pair of very necessary first-round picks (the 25th pick on Thursday night and a 2024 first-round selection) that will help Boston fill out its roster one way or another. Smart may be just the first domino to fall this offseason, with more moves -- and potentially another shocker -- likely coming. 

It's just disappointing that if the Celtics do finally reach the promised land once again, they'll do so without Marcus Smart in a Boston uniform. The team needed a bit of a shakeup after their season came to a disappointing end in the Eastern Conference Finals, and this move certainly classifies as such. 

Smart was not the perfect player. He was not the perfect leader. 

But he was perfect for Boston. The grit. The hustle. The passion. Marcus Smart bled green.

The Celtics got better talent-wise with this trade, but they lost a lot of heart and a good amount of leadership. It may not be too tough to replace what Smart posted in the stat sheet every night, but replacing what he meant to the team will be a lot more difficult.

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