De'Anthony Melton

Taylor Jenkins: “We Are The Furthest Thing From Dirty”

Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins is defending his team against accusations of “dirty” play, writes Drew Hill of The Daily Memphian.

The label started after Dillon Brooks was ejected from Tuesday’s game following a flagrant two foul that knocked Warriors guard Gary Payton II out of the series. Brooks has been suspended for Saturday’s Game 3, and Golden State coach Steve Kerr said he “broke the code” regarding safety among NBA players.

“I also wanted to address a narrative out there that was said between Game 1 and Game 2,” Jenkins said. “It was said that we have to play more physical, and the word dirty has been thrown out there. I look at my locker room and I look at our culture and what we exude — we are the furthest thing from dirty. We are competitive. I want that to be squashed pretty quick here. I know words only mean so much right here. We feel for what Payton is going through and that’s not going to change the course of action, but our guys are going to rally and focus on Game 3.”

Jenkins added that the league has been communicating with Grizzlies vice president of basketball operations Zach Kleiman since Tuesday night about the possibility that Brooks could be suspended. That gave Jenkins additional time to work on a game plan without Brooks available.

Brooks is Memphis’ best perimeter defender and is extremely valuable in countering the Warriors’ small-ball lineup. He has also become an important part of the offense, averaging a career-best 18.4 points per game this season.

“It’s disappointing,” Jenkins said of the suspension. “It’s an unfortunate circumstance and we will honor the league’s decision. It’s a tough play. We wish Gary Payton a speedy and healthy recovery. You don’t want to see anybody get hurt.”

Brooks’ absence on Saturday will likely mean a larger role for rookie Ziaire Williams, who served as the primary defender on Stephen Curry after Brooks was tossed from Game 2, Hill adds. De’Anthony Melton, who had three blocks and two steals on Tuesday, should see more time as well.

“It’s going to be even more of a grind,” Melton said. “It’s going to take mental focus and physical focus even more. We’ve played without guys before, and great teams without guys. We just have to go in and continue to play hard and play our game and have fun.” 

Central Rumors: P. Williams, Turner, Pangos, Pistons

The Bulls remain, for the most part, unwilling to discuss injured forward Patrick Williams in trade talks leading up to next Thursday’s trade deadline, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said this week on Chad Ford’s podcast. According to Fischer, Chicago could potentially be convinced to part with Williams, but only in a deal that significantly upgraded the team’s chances of competing for a title.

“From the people I’ve talked to in Chicago, it’s been made very clear to me that they are not going to consider moving (Williams) unless it’s for the piece,” Fischer said, per HoopsHype. “Not a piece but the piece that they think will push them to that championship.”

Such a deal seems unlikely to materialize at this year’s deadline for the Bulls, who probably don’t view a player of Jerami Grant‘s caliber as that sort of major difference-maker.

Here are a few more items from around the Central:

  • Fischer said on that same Chad Ford podcast that he has heard Pacers center Myles Turner might be ready to return from his foot injury shortly after the All-Star break (hat tip to HoopsHype). Barring setbacks, Fischer thinks Turner will be back in early March at the latest.
  • Longtime EuroLeague standout Kevin Pangos finally made the move to the NBA last year, but he hasn’t played much for the Cavaliers and doesn’t have a guaranteed contract beyond this season, resulting in speculation that he’ll return to Europe sooner rather than later. Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com stated on his podcast this week that CSKA Moscow is pushing to land Pangos as soon as this month should Cleveland decide to waive him.
  • James L. Edwards III and John Hollinger of The Athletic are unconvinced that the Pistons will end up moving Jerami Grant at the deadline, with Hollinger observing that the contending teams who could most use Grant to push them over the top would likely be wary about giving him a major role on offense. Hollinger adds that he views Bucks swingman Donte DiVincenzo and Grizzlies guard De’Anthony Melton as a couple ideal trade targets for the Pistons, though there’s no indication the team has inquired on either player.

COVID Updates: Green, Brooks, Bazley, Augustin, Scrubb, Niang, Neto

The league continues to be ravaged by COVID positives with an increasing number of players entering the league’s health and safety protocols. Here are the latest updates:

  • Warriors star forward Draymond Green has entered the protocols, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Green joined four other Warriors in the protocols heading into a pair of games against Denver.
  • The Grizzlies’ Dillon Brooks, De’Anthony Melton and Yves Pons all entered the protocols prior to their game against Sacramento on Sunday, the team’s PR department tweets. Memphis now has five players under those restrictions.
  • Darius Bazley became the first Thunder player in protocols, Andrew Schlecht of The Athletic tweets.
  • Veteran Rockets guard D.J. Augustin has entered the health and safety protocols, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • Clippers two-way player Jay Scrubb has been placed in the protocols, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times tweets.
  • Wizards guard Raul Neto has joined two other Washington players in the protocols, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets.
  • Two Hornets regulars, Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington, are now in the protocols, the team’s PR department tweets.
  • On the positive side, Sixers forward Georges Niang has cleared the protocols, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.

And-Ones: Brown, Bates, Afflalo, All-Underrated Team

The Milwaukee Common Council has approved a $750K settlement in a lawsuit brought by former Bucks player Sterling Brown over his 2018 arrest, according to an Associated Press report. Brown was taken to the ground and shocked with a Taser after he was approached by police over a parking violation.

As part of the settlement, Brown was given an apology from the city and Milwaukee police that “recognizes that the incident escalated in an unnecessary manner and despite Mr. Brown’s calm behavior.” It also requires the city to commit to changes in the police department’s standard operating procedures. Brown is currently playing for the Rockets.

We have more news and notes from around the basketball world:

  • High school star Emoni Bates decommitted from Michigan State and ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeff Borzello take a look at where Bates might end up. Bates, who is currently attending a prep school created by his father, won’t be eligible for the draft until 2023. Numerous colleges have made offers to Bates after he decommitted but he still has another year to go before he pursue that route. He could take the G League route if he graduates this spring but would have to stay there for two years due to the NBA’s age limit.
  • Former NBA player Arron Afflalo was part of a group that tried to purchase the Timberwolves and Afflalo is continuing to seek other opportunities to become a part-owner of a franchise. The Athletic’s David Aldridge spoke with Afflalo about his conversations with the Timberwolves and other topics.
  • Rudy Gobert, Jrue Holiday and De’Anthony Melton top the list of players on John Hollinger’s All-Underrated Team. The Athletic columnist lists his top 10 in that category, plus another group of that made his Honorable Mention list.

Western Notes: Melton, Gobert, Wiggins, Oubre

Grizzlies guard De’Anthony Melton is the latest player to miss game action due to the coronavirus pandemic. He won’t play against Atlanta on Saturday due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets. Melton played 25 minutes in Memphis’ season-opening loss to San Antonio on Wednesday.

We have more Western Conference news:

  • Despite the emphasis on the 3-point shot, Rudy Gobert remains a big part of the Jazz’s offense, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. Gobert made 8-of-10 field-goal attempts in the team’s season-opening victory over Portland while scoring 20 points. “When we move the ball that way it doesn’t really matter who gets the shot,” Gobert said. “I’m able to get my teammates open by just setting the screen or running the floor, or by catching the ball and then swinging to the open shooter. It’s fun.” Gobert signed a five-year, $205MM extension on Sunday.
  • Warriors wings Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. are off to very slow starts, Nick Friedell of ESPN notes. Wiggins, who was acquired by Golden State in February, and Oubre, who was added in the offseason, shot a combined 14-for-58 from the field and 2-for-21 from the 3-point line in the first two games this season. Coach Steve Kerr isn’t pushing the panic button. “Kelly’s going to be fine. Andrew will be fine,” Kerr said. “Those guys are proven players in this league. I’ve got to do a better job of putting them in positions to get comfortable, too.”
  • Big man JaMychal Green left the Clippers and signed with the Nuggets on a two-year, $15MM contract. Nuggets coach Michael Malone saw that as an example of Denver’s reputation around the league, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register writes. “The fact that he decided to join us, I think, was a sign of respect,” Malone said. “He wanted to be a part of the team he saw in the Western Conference semifinals when we played head to head.”

Grizzlies Re-Sign De’Anthony Melton To Four-Year Deal

NOVEMBER 22: The Grizzlies have officially announced their new deal with Melton, confirming the move in a press release.


NOVEMBER 21: The Grizzlies have agreed to re-sign free agent guard De’Anthony Melton to a four-year contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the deal will be worth $35MM. Melton had been a restricted free agent.

The 22-year-old’s modest box-score numbers – 7.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 2.9 APG – understated his impact in Memphis during the 2019/20 season. He was perhaps the Grizzlies’ best perimeter defender and the team had a +5.1 net rating when he played, compared to a -4.0 mark when he was on the bench.

The 46th overall pick in the 2020 draft, Melton earned the minimum salary for the first two years of his NBA career, but will now have a 2020/21 salary comparable to that of Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley, the top picks in his draft class, notes Charania (via Twitter). Charania says Melton will earn $9.6MM in year one, suggesting the deal has a declining structure.

The Grizzlies held Early Bird rights on Melton and will be able to re-sign him using those rights, so the deal won’t affect the team’s mid-level exception, which remains available. Melton, meanwhile, will join Ja Morant, Brandon Clarke, and Dillon Brooks as the only Grizzlies players under contract beyond 2022.

Melton had been the 20th overall player on our list of 2020’s top 50 free agents.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Grizzlies Extend QO To Melton, Making Him RFA

The Grizzlies have opted to extend a qualifying offer to backup point guard De’Anthony Melton ahead of his third season, making him a restricted free agent, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype and USA Today Sports (Twitter link).

Melton’s qualifying offer is worth $1,820,564. The Rockets drafted Melton with the No. 46 pick in the 2018 draft, but traded him to the Suns for his rookie season. The 22-year-old guard out of USC played 60 games, including eight starts, during his first year with Memphis in 2019/20. He averaged 7.6 PPG, 3.7 APG, and 2.9 APG across 19.5 MPG.

With Melton now a restricted free agent, the Grizzlies have the right to match any offer sheet the 6’2″ guard signs during the coming offseason.

And-Ones: Free Agents, Jersey Ads, Bubble, Europe

John Hollinger of The Athletic, who invented the PER stat during his time at ESPN, has developed a new metric called BORD$ that estimates a player’s salary value for the upcoming season. After providing an in-depth explanation of how exactly the BORD$ formula works, Hollinger has applied it to this year’s class of free agent point guards and shooting guards in an attempt to determine which players warrant the biggest investments.

Hollinger’s point guard list doesn’t include a ton of surprises — Fred VanVleet is easily the most valuable free agent at the position, with Mike Conley and Goran Dragic topping the next two tiers. Shabazz Napier, Trey Burke, and Jordan McLaughlin are among the point guards whose projections are higher than you might expect.

Applied to this year’s free agent shooting guards, the results from Hollinger’s metric are more eyebrow-raising. Grizzlies RFA-to-be De’Anthony Melton is considered the top free agent at the position by BORD$, ahead of Bogdan Bogdanovic and Evan Fournier. A pair of Bulls guards, Kris Dunn and Shaquille Harrison, also rank in Hollinger’s top seven FA shooting guards due to their defensive prowess.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • As the NBA considers potential new revenue streams to help offset the losses generated by the coronavirus pandemic, allowing a second advertisement patch on game jerseys is one idea being weighed, according to John Lombardo of SportsBusiness Journal.
  • David Aldridge of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at the lessons learned from the NBA’s summer bubble experiment and the takeaways that could carry over to the 2020/21 season. As Aldridge observes, while players and coaches aren’t eager to re-enter a bubble next year, the fact that it worked so well this time around will go a long way toward convincing them it’s worth doing again, if need be — even if it’s just for a short period in the postseason, like Major League Baseball did.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has continued to wreak havoc on European basketball leagues that have begun their 2020/21 seasons, as Ken Maguire of The Associated Press writes. Only half of the EuroLeague’s 18 clubs have played a full six-game schedule so far this season, as COVID-19 outbreaks have caused several last-minute postponements.

Dillon Brooks On Iguodala: Can’t Wait Until We Trade Him

Before the Grizzlies defeated the Pistons on Monday night, maintaining their hold on the No. 8 seed, a report surfaced suggesting that Andre Iguodala is preparing to sit out the season if he’s not traded to one of his preferred landing spots, or bought out. After Memphis’ win, forward Dillon Brooks weighed in on the Iguodala rumors, as Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal relays.

“Andre Iguodala’s a great player. I feel like he’s doing the right thing for his career, but we don’t really care,” Brooks said. “It’s not a distraction at all. I laugh at that type of stuff.

“A guy that’s on our team that doesn’t want to be on our team,” Brooks continued. “I can’t wait ’til we find a way to trade him so we can play him and show him what really Memphis is about.”

Although no other Grizzlies players conveyed a similar sentiment to reporters, Brooks’ teammates Ja Morant and De’Anthony Melton published cryptic tweets seemingly supporting his message.

Iguodala was sent from the Warriors to the Grizzlies in a July trade as Golden State cleared salary to bring in D’Angelo Russell. Although that trade was a salary dump that netted Memphis a first-round pick, the Grizzlies are confident Iguodala can be flipped for positive value and has insisted all season long they plan to move him rather than buy him out. The team has until Thursday afternoon to make that happen.

The Grizzlies and Iguodala reportedly reached a mutual agreement in the fall to have him remain away with the team, so the front office has no issue with his absence, but it’s not hard to see why some Grizzlies players may share Brooks’ sentiment.

When Iguodala talked in September about the trade, he recalled predicting in the summer that he’d be moved to “Memphis or some s–t,” implying that it was among the worst possible outcomes. And even as the upstart Grizzlies have outperformed expectations and moved into the playoff picture, the former Finals MVP has shown zero interest in playing for the team.

While a few young Grizzlies players may be eager to show Iguodala what he’s missing out on, veteran forward Jae Crowder took a more measured stance, as Barnes details.

“I would like to keep a lot of stuff in-house but we respect what he’s done,” Crowder said of Iguodala. “He’s a Hall-of-Famer. In my eyes, he’s a Hall-of-Famer. He’s proven in this league, so as long as he handled it like a professional, I believe he is. … I would not say that he’s been a distraction at all. Like I said, he hasn’t been here. But we respect what he wants at this time of his career, and you have to respect it.”

Ja Morant Sidelined With Back Spasms

Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant will be out of action on a “week-to-week basis” with back spasms, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

The star point guard first hurt his back in Monday’s game at Indiana when he collided with a camera operator after a layup attempt, writes David Cobb of The Commercial Appeal. He was helped off the court and appeared to be pointing to the middle of his upper back, Cobb adds, but later returned to the game.

Morant scored just 11 points against the Jazz last night, shooting 4 of 13 from the field, and appeared to be bothered by back pain. He is off to a strong start in his first NBA season, averaging 18.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.4 assists through 17 games.

Morant’s absence provides an opportunity for Tyus Jones, who came to Memphis this summer when the Timberwolves declined to match a three-year, $24MM offer sheet. He is averaging 19.3 minutes per night as a backup to Morant. Marko Guduric and De’Anthony Melton should also get an increase in playing time.