Western Notes: Morant, Harrell, Hood, Gasol, Murray

The Grizzlies are playing Ja Morant limited minutes and they plan to keep it that way for the foreseeable future, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. Morant played fewer than 30 minutes in four of his first five games, with the exception coming during an overtime game. Coach Taylor Jenkins hopes the approach will keep the second overall pick and anointed floor leader fresh during the 82-game schedule. “I’ve always been a big believer, you start playing in the mid-30s (minutes per game) you kind of wear down,” Jenkins said. “Our rookies, including him, have never played 82 games in a season.”

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Forward Montrezl Harrell continues to prove his worth to the Clippers, Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times writes. Harrell, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, is averaging 19.3 PPG and 5.9 RPG to help the team weather the injury absence of Paul George. After acquiring him in the Chris Paul deal with Houston, the Clippers were so unsure about Harrell that they considered waiving him during the summer of 2017, according to Elliott.
  • Trail Blazers guard Rodney Hood suffered a knee injury on Saturday but he didn’t sustain any structural damage, Jason Quick of The Athletic reports. The team’s medical staff determined that Hood has a bone bruise. Hood re-signed with Portland this offseason on a two-year, $11.7MM contract. Veteran center Pau Gasol, who joined Portland on a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract, has ramped up his workouts as he continues rehab from offseason foot surgery. Gasol did a series of shooting drills after a shootaround last week.
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray has become a more vocal leader this season and his teammates appreciate the change, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic relays. “I think it’s big-time,” fellow guard Monte Morris said. “If he’s going to be our starting point guard, everybody’s going to look for him to lead us.”
  • Nikola Jokic‘s numbers are down and Nuggets coach Michael Malone says his center must get more aggressive, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. He’s averaging 15.8 PPG, 4.3 PPG down from his average last season, while taking 2.6 fewer shots per game. “I don’t think he is, in terms of people thinking he’s checked out or not playing hard,” Malone said. “I don’t see that as the case at all. … I just have to make sure I keep on reminding him of how important he is to us, being aggressive and setting the tone.” Jokic is in the second year of a five-year, $147.7MM contract.
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5 thoughts on “Western Notes: Morant, Harrell, Hood, Gasol, Murray

  1. I like the Nuggets but they have gotten off to a slow start.
    They had a really good year last year and real learning year but I think they need to build on that and possibly start looking at the trade market.
    They paid Jamal Murray big $$, they also paid Jokic big $$. I think they were smart to bring in Grant and Porter returning is good but as a team in the West they have so many good players and really good role players I feel they are potentially missing 1 more star player.
    I’m not sure about Jokic or Murray as leaders, both are great players but they don’t seem very vocal or have that follow me attitude.
    Bradley Beal would’ve been a good target but you’ll have to wait till next year for him now, maybe DeMar DeRozan could be taken for Gary Harris, Malik Beasley and 2 second rounders. He’s not a leader but he is good at winning regular season games and has good experience.
    Maybe Jrue Holiday becomes available if you give up enough, Gary Harris, Porter Jr and 1st rounder could do the trick.
    Jrue would be an awesome defender for this team also, while the pelicans would get Lonzo and Harris which sounds nice and Zion and Porter which would be awesome.

    • Lastly maybe even Paul Millsap and Malik Beasley for Gordon Hayward and and a protected first. Celtics get a big that can play defence and a young SG that would make their bench a lot better. Nuggets get a good SF and a first rounder.

  2. When will Denver’s coaching staff give Jokic the hard truth about his conditioning? Yes, it’s endearing – the whole chubby kid thing – but if Nikola got in shape he’d be scary. Right now, he looks flat-footed and winded.

    • Major Factuh

      The 7 foot bag of milk description from last year still holds true. Crazy good player, yes, but you do have to wonder what would happen if he got in better shape.

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