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Marcus Smart calls out Grizzlies play during timeout huddle, ‘It’s embarrassing!’

Phoenix Suns v Memphis Grizzlies

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - NOVEMBER 24: Marcus Smart #36 of the Memphis Grizzlies during the second half against the Phoenix Suns during an In-Season Tournament game at FedExForum on November 24, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

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A key reason Marcus Smart was brought into Memphis was leadership. This is a team with explosive young talent that has won 51+ games each of the last two seasons, but it hasn’t translated into playoff wins. This team needed a fiery leader and a sense of maturity to take the next step and Smart was tasked with bringing that (along with Derrick Rose).

Smart brought the firey leadership part against the Timberwolves Sunday, yelling at the team during a timeout saying, “It’s embarrassing! It’s embarrassing!” among other things.

It has been embarrassing. The Grizzlies have dropped four straight, 7-of-9, and are 3-13 on the season. Smart is not wrong when he said the fans paid good money to see this team and deserve maximum effort from the players.

However, the Grizzlies’ struggles are less about effort and more about who is not on the floor — including Smart, who is out with an ankle sprain for at least a couple more weeks. After that, there is Ja Morant (nine games left on his suspension for waiving a gun around on social media), Steven Adams (starting center, out for the season with a knee issue), Brandon Clarke (backup center, recovering from torn Achilles), Luke Kennard (knee), Xavier Tillman (backup big, out with knee issue), and Jake LaRavia (eye). That’s seven rotation players who are out.

Look at it this way, against the Timberwolves Sunday the Grizzlies started Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., Santi Aldama, Bismack Biyombo and Jacob Gilyard, with David Roddy being the first guy off the bench. That rotation is not winning many NBA games.

How good these Grizzlies could be is up for debate, but it’s a hypothetical discussion right now because the players the Grizzlies can roll out are not going to win many games. The Grizzlies will get healthier as we head toward Christmas, the problem is even if they turn things around they have dug such a deep hole they will be fighting to make the play-in at best.

And firey speeches in the huddle are not going to change that.