Grizzlies Waive Kenneth Lofton Jr.

DECEMBER 18: The Grizzlies have officially waived Lofton, the team confirmed in a press release on Monday night. The move opens up a spot to formally activate Morant.

DECEMBER 17: The Grizzlies plan to release Kenneth Lofton Jr., reports Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

As Cole explains, the Grizzlies need to create a roster spot with Ja Morant nearing a return from his 25-game suspension; that’s expected to occur Tuesday vs. New Orleans. Lofton won’t be traveling on the team’s two-game road trip, which starts Monday in Oklahoma City.

Two different reports from the past week indicated that Lofton was the most likely player to be cut. When Morant was placed on the suspended list following the fifth game of the season, the Grizzlies signed Bismack Biyombo, and they’ll reportedly be keeping him around for now.

Lofton, a second-year forward/center, was promoted from a two-way deal to a standard contract near the end of the 2022/23 season.

The 21-year-old had an opportunity to earn minutes in the frontcourt this season, with Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke sidelined with long-term injuries, plus Xavier Tillman missing extended time. But he was unable to establish himself as a consistent contributor this fall, averaging just 2.6 points per game on 37.8% shooting in 15 appearances (6.6 MPG).

A source tells Cole that Lofton met with head coach Taylor Jenkins earlier in ’23/24 to gain a better understanding of why he wasn’t playing, but Jenkins reportedly told him there weren’t many minutes available.

Lofton has two years left on his contract after this season, but both are non-guaranteed. That means if he clears waivers, the Grizzlies will only be on the hook for his ’23/24 salary, which is $1,719,864.

According to Cole, Lofton is expected to draw interest from rival teams due to his ability to score. He averaged a double-double for the Memphis Hustle (the Grizzlies’ G League affiliate) last season, winning the NBAGL’s Rookie of the Year award in the process.

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