Taylor Jenkins believes Marcus Smart will take Memphis ‘to the next level’


Taylor Jenkins’ first four seasons as Grizzlies head coach proved that he can build a team that can aspire for an NBA title, however, they’ve always come up short of their potential. The truth is, they’ve been improving their marks more and more each year, as this past campaign no team was stronger at home than Memphis, as they logged a 35-6 mark at FedEx Forum.

Now that he’s entering his fifth tournament at the team’s helm, the pressure is starting to mount as he’s expected to lead the franchise to their first-ever NBA championship. The 39-year-old remains positive, especially as he’s excited over this summer’s latest roster moves.

According to the head coach, trading in for players like Marcus Smart will provide the rest of the roster with an elite mentality.

“There are so many things we can take away from this offseason. Obviously, some roster moves that we made – super-thrilled to be welcoming Marcus Smart to the group,” Jenkins said. “Elite player, elite leader, elite competitor. Adding him, I think, is going to take our group to the next level. Excited to get him acclimated and up to speed, but he’s been fully engaged with his teammates throughout the summer, which has been cool to see, building those relationships.”

When further explaining his impact on the locker room, he says it should come organically, and this role will also improve him as a player.

“Yeah, I’m big on ‘organic.’ Marcus, I think, wants that to be the case. I don’t want to press anything on him,” the trainer explained. “He and I have had dialogues about, ‘Who are your teammates? Who do we have on the roster?’ The relationships he’s already building with guys on this team, what its needs are, he’s going to do it his way. He’s going to do what he does naturally to be great, and I’ll even push him to be better.”

Even though Jenkins admitted the frustration behind Ja Morant’s suspension, he assures his team is all about collectiveness, not individuals

The fact that Ja Morant will be out for the first 25 games of the season is a reason to worry, yes, but coach Jenkins guarantees that he’s built a team based on all its’ parts, not only one single person.

“We always talk about our standard as a team. It’s not about one individual. Obviously, Ja being out for 25 games, he and I and the other players and [GM Zach Kleiman] have talked about what that’s going to look like. But nothing’s going to change about being prepared. Everyone on the roster, Ja included when his time comes to get back with the group, has got to stay ready,” he said.

Back in July, Jenkins shared a similar sentiment over the Grizzlies signing Smart. Check out his reaction when he was first asked to address this trade during Summer League action:

About Morant, he’s aware it won’t be easy to play without him, but he knows that this hasn’t been the first time they’ve had to play without their star players.

“That’s easier said than done,” Jenkins expressed. “But if you look at our team the last two years, guys have missed significant amounts of time for various reasons. We talk about the standard that we play at, how we work every single day.”

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