Grizzlies Notes: Bane, Morant, Rajakovic, Harmony

Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane recently spoke to Sam Amick of The Athletic about a number of topics, including his upbringing, his breakout second season, the team’s success (56-26, the No. 2 seed in the West), and more. Here are a couple highlights:

On the pride he feels to find success despite unstable parents (he was raised by his great-grandparents):

“I’m super proud. I mean, it’s hard for me to even put into words. From a young age, from the very beginning, I didn’t really have any stability. My great-grandparents gave me that. My mom was in and out of jail, and I never met my dad.

“… So to be able to accomplish what I’ve accomplished and have a career and, like you said, be able to affect so many people, it’s hard to put into words. When (my great-grandparents) passed last year during my first season, there was a lot of change there too. I mean, that’s kind of been the story of my life. I moved to Memphis, a place I’d never been, (my great-grandparents) pass, I get a new house and I’ve got my girl over there, but you know, just a lot of moving parts. But I feel stable now. And like I said, Memphis has wrapped their arms around me, and I love it here.”

On the Grizzlies’ belief that they can win a title this season:

“We definitely think that we’re more than capable of doing it. I mean, we’re a young team. But like you said, we carry that chip on our shoulder and we move around like a team that has been here before. So we’re definitely excited and looking forward to the opportunity.”

As a former first-round pick (No. 30 overall in 2020), Bane will be eligible for a rookie scale extension after his third season in 2022/23 and is sure to receive a significant raise. The 23-year-old averaged 18.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.2 steals on .461/.436/.903 shooting in 76 games (29.8 minutes) this season.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Jonathan Abrams of The New York Times spoke to an aerial artist, a skateboarder, a BMX rider and a skateboarding instructor about Ja Morant‘s gravity-defying dunks. All of the aforementioned interviewees see parallels between Morant’s acrobatics and their own.
  • Assistant coach Darko Rajakovic has been instrumental to the team’s player development, according to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “Darko just doesn’t care who you are, what your role is on the team,” Ziaire Williams said. “He just wants you to be the best you possibly can be. That’s what I love him about the most.” The Grizzlies went 4-1 under Rajakovic this season when head coach Taylor Jenkins was in the league’s health and safety protocols.
  • Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal details how the team has found organizational harmony under the leadership of GM Zach Kleiman and Jenkins. “The synergy is unbelievable,” Jenkins said. “The trust that (team owner) Robert (Pera) has for Zach, myself, in obviously building the team and coaching the team. The trust that Zach has in me. We do a great job of pushing each other because if we want to elevate this organization, this team to do great things and win championships, we’ve got to push each other.”
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