Grizzlies Notes: Smart, Kennard, Injuries, Roster, Jackson

Already missing two point guards in Ja Morant (suspension) and Derrick Rose (knee), the Grizzlies saw another one go down in Tuesday’s loss to the Lakers.

As Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes, Marcus Smart left the game in the first quarter with a left ankle injury after landing on Austin Reaves‘ foot while contesting a shot (Twitter video link via Bally Sports). Smart was wearing a walking boot on his left foot after the game and will undergo further evaluation to determine the severity of the injury, per Cole.

Luke Kennard also left Tuesday’s contest due to left knee soreness and didn’t return, but head coach Taylor Jenkins referred to that decision as precautionary, so it sounds like the veteran wing won’t miss much – if any – more time. With the Grizzlies off for three days before resuming their schedule in San Antonio on Saturday, Kennard will have some time to rest that knee.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • When the Grizzlies placed Morant on the suspended list and opened up an extra roster spot, they used it on Bismack Biyombo because they were short on frontcourt depth, with Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke out and Santi Aldama and Xavier Tillman banged up. The original expectation was that they’d use that 16th roster spot to add a point guard during Morant’s absence, according to Cole of The Commercial Appeal, who notes that Memphis could certainly use an extra body in its backcourt now. Two-way player Jacob Gilyard is the only healthy point guard on the roster, though Desmond Bane figures to continue to shoulder plenty of the ball-handling and play-making responsibilities.
  • For what it’s worth, the Grizzlies could qualify for another extra roster spot via a hardship exception, but that would require four players to have missed at least three consecutive games due to an injury or illness, with an expectation they’d remain sidelined for some time beyond those three games. For now, only three players fit that bill (Adams, Clarke, and Rose).
  • Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. spoke to Mark Medina of Sportskeeda about several topics, including the team’s slow start this fall, how his role has changed with Adams and Clarke on the shelf, his position as a team leader, and his experience playing with Team USA. Jackson said he’d “for sure” be interested in playing in the Olympics if he gets the call from USA Basketball. “I haven’t gotten the word. I’ll do it if they ask me,” Jackson said. “It’s random. You never know. It’s whenever they want to call.”
  • Medina also conducted a Q&A with Smart prior to Tuesday’s ankle injury. The veteran guard discussed, among other subjects, his adjustment to a new team, the message he’s trying to impart his younger teammates, and the conversations he has had with Morant in practices.
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