Andrew Harrison

Grizzlies Waive Center Dakari Johnson

7:05 pm: The team will use the stretch provision on Johnson, creating annual cap hits worth just under $450K per season for the next three years, Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com tweets.

4:39pm: The Grizzlies have waived center Dakari Johnson, according to a team press release.

Johnson never got a chance to play for Memphis, as he was acquired via a trade with the Magic in July. Memphis shipped out Jarell Martin and tossed in cash considerations in that trade. Orlando acquired Johnson a few days earlier from Oklahoma City in exchange for guard Rodney Purvis.

He appeared in 31 games, including six starts, as a rookie with the Thunder last season. The 7-footer was a second-round pick in the 2015 draft and played parts of three seasons in the G League with the Oklahoma City Blue.

The Grizzlies could use the stretch provision on Johnson’s $1.378MM salary to help them create additional room below the luxury tax threshold. The deadline to use the stretch provision on his contract is today, since it’s an expiring deal. By waiving Johnson, Memphis also created a spot on the 15-man roster for point guard Andrew Harrison, whose deal is non-guaranteed.

Southwest Notes: Smith, Davis, Harrison, Martin

Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. impressed with his performance in the Dunk Contest, finishing third behind winner Donovan Mitchell and runner-up Larry Nance Jr. While the exposure from being in the event was great for the youngster, Smith understands that it’s not a guarantee that he will be a future All-Star, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes.

“There’s a lot of guys who do the dunk contest that will never be in the All-Star Game,” Smith said. “But then again, I was in the Rising Stars. It’s all about timing. I’ll pace myself and whenever my time comes, I’ll be in there.”

Smith, 20, has been solid for the Mavericks this season, averaging 14.8 PPG and 4.9 APG. He has been mentioned in Rookie of the Year discussions alongside Ben Simmons and Mitchell.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Anthony Davis‘ evolution from All-Star game reserve to All-Star Game MVP to perennial All-Star has solidified him among the NBA’s elite, Scott Kushner of The Advocate writes. Davis has taken the appropriate steps to increase his worth, including a developed three-point shot and intense rebounding. The regular season progression has been special but Kushner questions Davis maintaining that effectiveness in the postseason.
  • Sunday’s All-Star game was supposed to be a celebratory moment for Davis and DeMarcus Cousins as they were the two Pelicans selected to the event. However, a season-ending torn Achilles heel sidelined Cousins for the rest of 2017/18 and cast doubt on whether or not the impending free agent will ever team with Davis again, Kushner writes in a separate story.
  • Jarell Martin and Andrew Harrison were not expected to be major factors for the Grizzlies this season, having been candidates to be released in training camp. Even though the team is out of contention, both players have been solid, Chris Herrington of The Commercial Appeal writes.

Grizzlies Rumors: Gasol, Youngsters, Draft Missteps

After starting the season with a 7-4 record, the Grizzlies have won just one of their last 16 games, plummeting to second-last in the Western Conference at 8-19. Despite the team’s massive slump, general manager Chris Wallace continues to insist that Memphis won’t entertain the notion of trading Marc Gasol this season, writes Zach Lowe of ESPN.

“We think our window is still very much open with Mike [Conley] and Marc. I think we’ll be heard from the rest of this year, and in years to come,” Wallace recently said. The Grizzlies’ GM reiterated that sentiment on Tuesday, according to Lowe.

Wallace and others in the Grizzlies’ front office are “adamant” that their stance on Gasol – and rebuilding in general – won’t change this season, even if the team doesn’t start winning. Lowe is skeptical, suggesting there are probably scenarios in which Memphis at least gauges Gasol’s value, even if the team doesn’t shop him outright. Still, the ESPN scribe acknowledges that the Grizzlies may still prefer to play out the season, grab a lottery pick, and redouble their efforts to contend with Gasol and Conley in 2018/19.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies, including a few additional tidbits from Lowe’s feature:

  • Gasol insists that he won’t ask the Grizzlies for a trade, even if the team were to fall to 30 games below .500. “I would want to see how we got there — what the process is,” Gasol said, according to Lowe. “But as long as [owner] Robert [Pera] wants me here, my teammates want me here, they think I’m part of the solution — and not part of the problem — that’s all I need.” Still, if Memphis decides it wants to move him, Gasol would accept that too: “If they think it is best, I would do anything for this franchise.”
  • Wallace believes the Grizzlies can build for the future even as they focus on short-term contention, pointing to Dillon Brooks, Andrew Harrison, Jarell Martin, Deyonta Davis, and Ivan Rabb as young players who could evolve into solid rotation players. “How many teams who have been annual participants in the playoffs have as many guys under 24?” Wallace asked. Still, as Lowe notes, the Memphis GM admitted that it “remains to be seen” whether any of those players will develop into above-average NBA starters.
  • Taking a look back at some of the Grizzlies’ draft mistakes, Lowe cites sources who say that the club unsuccessfully tried to trade up for T.J. Warren in 2014. Memphis also considered drafting Nikola Jokic at No. 35 in 2014, but felt it was too high for him, per Lowe. Denver nabbed Jokic six picks later.
  • Like Lowe, Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal has gone into extended detail this week about what has gone wrong for the Grizzlies this year. On Sunday, Tillery explored how Memphis’ retooling plan has backfired, while on Tuesday he wrote about the club’s culture being called into question.

Grizzlies Looking For Trades Before Roster Deadline

The Grizzlies are exploring trades to reach the roster limit, tweets Keith Smith of RealGM. The team has 16 guaranteed contracts and must get rid of two players by Monday.

Past reports out of Memphis indicated that power forward Jarell Martin is most in danger of being waived, along with point guards Andrew Harrison and Wade Baldwin. Mario Chalmers doesn’t have a fully guaranteed contract, but he has looked good in recent weeks and appears to have a leg up over the younger point guards.

A first-round pick in 2015, Martin will make more than $1.47MM this year. He has spent much of the past two seasons in the G League, but played 42 games for the Grizzlies in 2016/17, averaging 3.9 points per night in about 13 minutes.

Harrison earned a spot in the rotation as a rookie point guard last season and appeared in 72 games, starting 18. He has a guaranteed $1,312,611 salary for this year and a fully non-guaranteed $1,544,951 for 2018/19.

Baldwin, a first-round pick in 2016, appeared in 33 games as a rookie point guard. He is guaranteed more than $1.87MM for this season.

Western Notes: Martin, Georges-Hunt, Casspi, Leonard

Jarell Martin is the player most likely to be waived by the Grizzlies despite a lack of depth at power forward, according to Chris Herrington of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.  The Grizzlies need to pare two players to reach the 15-man limit and Martin is an inconsistent player who’s not really a stretch four or a defensive force, Herrington continues. The final roster decision will likely come down to guards Andrew Harrison and Wade Baldwin, since it appears Mario Chalmers has re-emerged as a rotation piece, Herrington notes. Harrison is a useful player at the back end of the roster but it would be difficult to give up on Baldwin, a first-round pick last year, Herrington adds. Memphis will likely explore trades involving those players this weekend to facilitate the decision.

In other developments regarding the Western Conference:

  • Marcus Georges-Hunt‘s ability to guard three or four positions makes him the favorite to nab the 14th spot on the Timberwolves’ roster, Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. The 6’5” swingman has the edge over rookies Amile Jefferson and Melo Trimble, who will likely be sent to the team’s G League affiliate in Iowa, while another swingman, Anthony Brown, has already signed a two-way contract. However, Minnesota wants to keep the 15th spot open and could also pursue a player that’s waived or bought out as teams make their final roster cuts, Zgoda adds.
  • Omri Casspi has taken a clear lead over Nick Young for a spot in the Warriors’ rotation, Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes. Young got a bigger contract than Casspi when signing with the Warriors this summer but came to camp out of shape while Casspi quickly showed he’s a better fit for coach Steve Kerr’s system, Slater adds.
  • There’s still no apparent timetable for Kawhi Leonard‘s return from a right quad injury, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News reports. The Spurs All-Star forward has spent the entire preseason rehabbing from an injury he originally suffered last season. “We’ve seen him in the gym and in rehab, but he hasn’t scrimmaged, so it’s hard to tell what stage he is in,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili told Orsborn.

Southwest Notes: Noel, Grizzlies, Clavell

There have been no shortages of distractions throughout Nerlens Noel‘s basketball career and that’s not about to change during the 2017/18 campaign. As Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post writes, the Mavs center will approach this season with his unrestricted free agency looming.

Still just 23 years old, Noel has already dealt with injuries, trade rumors and free agency speculation across stops with Kentucky, the Sixers and now the Mavs. This year he’ll look to earn a substantial offseason payday despite starting the season as Dallas’ backup center.

With Dirk Nowitzki slotted ahead of him at the five, Noel will be utilized off the bench as an athletic post defender with the ability to check guards on the perimeter. The Mavs will also look to employ his ability to crash the net in pick-and-roll situations, with a keen eye on how the young center might fit with the franchise long-term, in the post-Nowitzki era.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The addition of Mario Chalmers gives the Grizzlies the option to be more selective with who they incorporate into their rotaiton between Andrew Harrison and Wade Baldwin. Chris Herrington of The Commercial Appeal speculates that the club could continue to develop Baldwin and, reluctantly, waive Harrison.
  • The Mavs only have 12 players currently on guaranteed deals. It turns out, Gian Clavell could be one of their seven players on non-guaranteed deals to convince the team to keep him on for the full year. Earl Sneed of Mavs.com tweets that the guard has made a strong case for making the squad.
  • Utility man Dante Cunningham is capable of playing multiple positions, doing dirty work and doing it all with a smile. That flexibility is what endeared him to Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry, who will trot him out as the team’s starting small forward in 2017/18, Scott Kushner of The New Orleans Advocate writes.

Western Notes: Speights, Paul, Gasol, Grizzlies

Reserve Clippers center and former Warriors backup Marreese Speights believes his current team needs to learn some lessons from its blowout loss to Golden State on Wednesday, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register reports. Speights ripped the Clippers for whining about calls and implored them to play more unselfishly, Oram continues. Speights explained that the Warriors coaching staff felt the Clippers would fold if “you hit them a couple times” and they lived up to that reputation, Oram adds. “First we need to start really just leaving the refs alone,” Speights told Oram and other media members. “Guys just got to sacrifice, do some other things than scoring, do some other things than your personal goals. Just try something new. They’ve been doing it here for four or five years and it hasn’t been working, so it’s time to try something new.”

In other news around the Western Conference:
  • Clippers guard Chris Paul believes it’s feasible that he will team up with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony at some point, he revealed in a radio interview that was relayed by SI.com. In an Open Run podcast, said “anything’s possible” and added that they work out together at times during the offseason. Paul can opt out of his contract after this season, while James and Anthony can opt out of the final year of their contracts after the 2017/18 season.
  • Pau Gasol nearly signed with the Spurs in 2014 before choosing the Bulls, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express Nets. Gasol felt Chicago “underperformed” in his two seasons there before he opted out of the final year of his contract and chose the Spurs this summer. He was also heavy recruited by ex-Bulls coach and current Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations, Tom Thibodeau, McDonald continues. Gasol turned down bigger money — two years and $36MM — to sign with San Antonio for two years and $31.6MM, McDonald adds. “I think a player like that, he’s looking for an opportunity to be part of a championship team,” Thibodeau told McDonald.
  • Rookies point guards Andrew Harrison and Wade Baldwin are doing a respectable job replacing injured Mike Conley for the Grizzlies, Ronald Tillery of the Memphis  Commercial Appeal writes. Their decision-making can be frustrating to the coaching staff at times and Harrison’s outside shot has been inconsistent but overall, coach David Fitzdale is pleased with the way they’ve performed, Tillery adds. “I’ve got to live with what these younger guys are doing on the court whether it’s good or bad,” Fizdale told Tillery. “In the long run, it’s going to help us. At the end of the year, they won’t be as young anymore.”

Southwest Notes: Motiejunas, Douglas, Harrison

The Rockets aren’t facing an easy decision about matching the Nets’ offer sheet for Donatas Motiejunas, writes James Herbert of CBS Sports. The four-year, $37MM deal only has $5MM in guaranteed money. Motiejunas would get another $3.5MM this season if he is still on the roster January 10th, and his salary for next season would be guaranteed if he is not waived before March 1st. There is a July 7th trigger date for each of the final two non-guaranteed seasons.

While the financial risk is small, there are other factors that may make the Rockets hesitate. Motiejunas was limited by back trouble last season, and a trade to Detroit in February was rescinded because he couldn’t pass a physical. Houston officials are worried about how much Motiejunas’ condition may deteriorate in two seasons, tweets Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com. Also, because the offer sheet came after November 23rd, which is three months before the trade deadline, Motiejuans can’t be dealt for the rest of the season. He can’t be traded without his consent for a full year. In addition, there are also concerns about whether his post-up style would fit in with coach Mike D’Antoni’s philosophy. The Rockets must make a decision on whether to match by Monday.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Grizzlies are now in position to be granted an injury exception, which they are expected to use to sign veteran guard Toney Douglas, according to Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. League rules say the exception can be granted once a team has at least four players miss three consecutive games and several will be out for an extended time. The Grizzlies reached that threshold after Saturday’s game, when they were missing six players. Douglas is in Memphis now waiting for the paperwork to be finalized, tweets Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com.
  • The Grizzlies are impressed by the performance of rookie guard Andrew Harrison, who moved into the starting lineup after an injury to Mike Conley, writes Mike Bohn of USA Today.  “I know we short handed, but got a bunch of tough guys on this team that believe we [can] win,” Harrison said. “Losing Mike was big, he’s an MVP candidate in my eyes, but we know what we got to do: We got to bring it every night.”
  • The job of carrying on the Spurs‘ tradition has fallen to Tony Parker now that Tim Duncan has retired, according to The Vertical’s Michael Lee. Parker is in his 16th season in San Antonio, making him the longest-tenured Spur. “I just want to make sure we keep winning and keep the tradition going,” he said. “Obviously, we’re always going to miss Timmy and you can’t replace Timmy. We just have to do it a different way.”

Southwest Notes: Stephenson, Diallo, Grizzlies

The Pelicans have gotten some negative feedback from around the league for their decision to waive Lance Stephenson, writes Scott Kushner of The Advocate. Stephenson was let go after suffering a serious groin injury on Saturday that is expected to sideline him for several weeks. With New Orleans already missing Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter, the team needed to open a roster spot to sign Archie Goodwin. With only $100K of his contract guaranteed, Stephenson was an obvious candidate.

The Pelicans are obligated to pay Stephenson his full salary while he is injured and have pledged to help with his recovery, but they haven’t escaped criticism for the way they handled the situation. “Remember this is a business,” Kings forward Matt Barnes posted on Instagram. “When you can no longer serve your purpose, these teams cut you, trade you or bury you on the bench. Case in point, Lance gets hurt playing and needs surgery now, so instead of supporting him and helping him get healthy, they cut him.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans plan to send rookie power forward Cheick Diallo to the D-League this week for more playing time, tweets Jennifer Hale of WVUE Fox 8 in New Orleans. Diallo has appeared in just one game so far, getting six minutes of action.
  • Grizzlies coach David Fizdale is still deciding whether to give more minutes to Andrew Harrison or Wade Baldwin, tweets Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal. Harrison has been getting more playing time lately and has started two games with Tony Allen nursing a knee injury. “Wade had been struggling and I’ve got two young point guards,” Fizdale said. “Neither one has solidified that spot.”
  • The Mavericks are off to a slow start, but owner Mark Cuban has too much at stake financially to give up on this season, contends Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News. The Mavericks draw about 20,000 fans for each home game, which Gosselin believes will only keep happening if they stay in the playoff race. Dallas picked up its first win Sunday after starting the season with five straight losses.

Grizzlies Sign Andrew Harrison To 3-Year Deal

TUESDAY, 11:36am: The Grizzlies have officially signed Harrison, the club announced today in a press release.

SUNDAY, 12:14pm: Andrew Harrison has agreed to a three-year, $3MM deal with the Grizzlies, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. The third season of the contract is partially guaranteed, Wojnarowski reports.

Harrison was highly regarded coming out of Kentucky in 2015, but slipped to 44th in the draft and spent this season in the D-League. He played with the Grizzlies’ affiliate in Iowa, where he averaged 14 points per game.

A 6-6 shooting guard, Harrison will compete for playing time with new addition Troy Daniels, whom the Grizzlies acquired Saturday in a sign-and-trade with Charlotte.