Losing a player like Marc Gasol midway through the season would be enough bad luck for any franchise. But for this season’s Grizzlies, it was just the beginning.
Since Gasol had his season ended prematurely by a broken right foot last month, the Grizzlies have been hit by a near-unprecedented rash of injuries. Star point guard Mike Conley developed soreness in his left foot last week and was diagnosed with Achilles tendinitis. Doctors expect to re-evaluate him near the end of the month. Rugged power forward Zach Randolph has missed seven straight games with an aching right knee.
And the injury problems continue all the way down the roster. Here’s a sampling:
- Veteran swingman Vince Carter has been out since straining his left calf last Friday.
- Center Chris Andersen is rehabbing a left shoulder subluxation, and the Grizzlies are hoping for his return soon.
- Second-year shooting guard Jordan Adams is working to recover from surgery on his right knee, and Memphis isn’t sure when he might be available again.
- Forward/center Brandan Wright is trying to recover from a sprained right MCL, and the Grizzlies don’t know if he’ll be back before the regular season ends.
- Swingman P.J. Hairston was hit with a left groin strain Monday and will be re-evaluated next week. As with many of his teammates, there is no set timetable for his return.
Injuries have struck the Grizzlies so hard that the NBA approved a request to permit the team to carry 18 players, three above the standard minimum. In total, eight players are currently trying to overcome some type of injury, and many nights it’s difficult for coach Dave Joerger to fill out a full rotation.
The only good news in Memphis is that the team built a huge cushion for the playoffs before all the injuries began. Despite losing their last four games, the Grizzlies are 39-30 and still in fifth place in the Western Conference. They hold a five and a half game lead over ninth-place Utah with 13 games left in the season. However, the Grizzlies’ schedule is challenging the rest of the way. Memphis still has two games left with the Clippers and Spurs, as well as meetings with the Raptors, Bulls, Mavericks and Warriors. Seven of their final 13 games are at home.
That leads me to tonight’s Shootaround topic: Can the Grizzlies overcome their injuries and hold on to a playoff spot? What is a realistic record over the final 13 games for a team that used Matt Barnes, JaMychal Green, Ryan Hollins, Tony Allen and Lance Stephenson as its starting lineup Thursday night, backed up by a collection of former D-Leaguers and 10-day signings? Memphis has seen 26 players pass through its roster this season, which would be the most ever for a playoff team.
Please use the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.