2:59pm: The Grizzlies followed up with a press release to formally announce the Stepheson signing.
2:38pm: Holyfield’s release is official, the team announced, though the Grizzlies made no mention of Stepheson.
12:24pm: The Grizzlies are switching out big men on their camp roster, waiving center Michael Holyfield to make room for the signing of power forward Alex Stepheson, reports Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal (Twitter link). Tillery indicates the transactions have already taken place, though the team has not made an announcement. Stepheson, who went undrafted out of USC in 2011, was with the Mavericks in summer league this year, but this will be his first NBA contract. It’ll be for the minimum salary, since that’s all the Grizzlies can hand out after using their mid-level exception on Brandan Wright, though the level of guarantee on Stepheson’s deal isn’t immediately clear. Holyfield, who signed a non-guaranteed deal with the Grizzlies in August, went scoreless in eight minutes in Tuesday’s preseason opener for Memphis. The Grizzlies roster will remain at the preseason limit of 20.
Stepheson, 28, scored a total of five points in about 18 minutes of playing time spread across three games with the summer league Mavs in July. He also appeared in summer league with the Kings in 2014, but most of his pro career has played out overseas. Stepheson averaged 12.3 points and 9.2 boards in 26.8 minutes per game across 29 appearances with Turkey’s Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyesi last season, showing his skill as a high-volume rebounder. He began his college career at North Carolina before transferring to USC, where he pulled down 9.2 RPG in 32.9 MPG as a senior in 2010/11.
Holyfield was with the Grizzlies summer league team this year before formally joining the Memphis roster. He went undrafted out of Sam Houston State in June. The Grizzlies can retain his D-League rights if they wish, just as they can with as many as four of the players they waive. Fellow Memphis camp invitee Dan Nwaelele, whom the Grizzlies waived earlier this week, appears set to become one of those four, as international journalist David Pick reported that he’s on his way to the D-League affiliate of the Grizzlies.
Memphis has 14 full guarantees plus a partial guarantee for JaMychal Green, as our roster count shows. Thus, Stepheson doesn’t appear to have much of a chance to stick with the Grizzlies for long, so he, too, is a candidate to end up with their D-League team.