Desmond Bane

Western Notes: LeBron, Walker, Kawhi, George, Bane

Lakers star LeBron James made his return on Friday night in San Antonio after missing five games due to an adductor strain, and helped lead the team to a 105-94 victory. Speaking to reporters following the win, James indicated that he isn’t planning to sit out the second half of the Lakers’ back-to-back set vs. the Spurs on Saturday, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN relays.

“There’s a strong possibility that I play tomorrow,” James said. “I just sat out for two weeks. I’m good.”

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Facing his former team for the first time since signing with the Lakers in the offseason, Lonnie Walker said on Friday that San Antonio is still “home” and the Spurs are still “family,” per Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group. Walker, who received the full taxpayer mid-level exception from the Lakers in free agency, is enjoying a career year so far in Los Angeles and making a bid for Most Improved Player consideration. At ESPN, McMenamin takes a look at what’s fueling Walker’s fifth-year surge.
  • Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard (ankle) and Paul George (hamstring), along with sharpshooter Luke Kennard (calf), will remain sidelined for Sunday’s game vs. Indiana, head coach Tyronn Lue said on Friday (story via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN). However, Lue added that he doesn’t expect Leonard’s injury or George’s to be a “long-term” issue.
  • Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal (subscription required) spoke to orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Kenneth Jung about Desmond Bane‘s toe injury to try to get a sense of how long the recovery process might take. According to Jung, a toe sprain is the sort of injury that can flare up again if the player returns before he’s 100%, so the Grizzlies will likely play it safe with Bane’s timeline.

Desmond Bane Expected To Miss At Least 2-3 Weeks With Toe Injury

Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of his right big toe, the team announced today in a press release (Twitter link). According to the Grizzlies, Bane will be reevaluated in two-to-three weeks.

Bane, who sustained the injury in Friday’s win over Minnesota, had been off to a tremendous start in his first 12 games of the season. After increasing his scoring average from 9.2 points per game as a rookie to 18.2 PPG last season, the 24-year-old has taken another step forward in his third year, having boosted his scoring average to 24.7 PPG.

Bane is also averaging career highs in RPG (4.9), APG (4.8), and 3PT% (.451), among other categories. His career three-point rate is now up to 43.6%.

The Grizzlies have a +9.2 net rating when Bane is on the court this season, compared to a -9.7 mark when he sits, which is the biggest disparity of anyone on the roster. In other words, replacing him while he recovers won’t be easy.

Still, Memphis is on the verge of getting some lineup reinforcements, as Jaren Jackson Jr. is expected to make his regular season debut on Tuesday following offseason foot surgery. Jackson is listed as questionable for tonight’s game, but plans to suit up, per Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Ja Morant – who missed Sunday’s game due to an ankle injury – is not on the team’s injury report and also should be available.

With Bane sidelined, John Konchar and Dillon Brooks are among the top candidates for a bump in minutes on the wing.

Southwest Injury Notes: Morant, Jackson Jr., Wesley, Langford, Tate, Bertans

Ja Morant missed Sunday’s game against Washington with an ankle injury but it apparently will only be a one-game absence. The Grizzlies’ star guard is not on the injury report for Tuesday’s game against New Orleans, the team’s PR department tweets.

Meanwhile, Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. could make his season debut on Tuesday, as the forward is listed as questionable. Jackson has been rehabbing from offseason right foot surgery. Morant’s backcourt partner, Desmond Bane, is doubtful due to toe soreness.

We have more injury updates regarding the Southwest Division:

  • Spurs rookie guard Blake Wesley has begun his rehab from a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News reports. Wesley is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks of action. “It’s going good,” he said. “I’ve started jogging, lifting and getting my routine back. I’m on the court, not moving, but getting up shots and taking it day by day.”
  • Spurs guard Romeo Langford has been placed in the league’s health and safety protocols and will miss Monday’s game against Golden State, Orsborn tweets.
  • Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate has appeared in just three games due to an ankle injury and he’ll miss several more games. Coach Stephen Silas said Tate will be reevaluated in two or three weeks, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • Mavericks forward Davis Bertans, who has been sidelined with a right knee injury, participated in his first full practice on Monday since early in training camp, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Bertans is still listed out for the team’s game against the Clippers on Tuesday, the team’s PR department tweets.

Southwest Notes: Jackson Jr., Anderson, Doncic, Bassey

Jaren Jackson Jr. is close to making his season debut for the Grizzlies, according to Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Jackson was listed as doubtful to play against Washington on Sunday, then was declared out. He was listed as out for all previous games this season as he rehabbed from foot surgery. Jackson recently started playing in 5-on-5 situations during practice.

Memphis’ backcourt of Ja Morant (ankle) and Desmond Bane (toe) also missed the game, Ava Wallace of the Washington Post tweets.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Former Grizzlies forward Kyle Anderson signed with the Timberwolves as a free agent this summer but the veteran forward is rooting for his former team when they’re not playing his current one, Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. “They’ve taken it to a whole new level. Those guys put the work and they work very hard so I’m always happy for them on their journey for sure, watching from afar,” Anderson said. “So it’s pretty awesome to see them do big things.”
  • Luka Doncic‘s usage rate is higher than any other player in the league, prompting Tim Cato of The Athletic to consider whether Doncic can keep going at this pace. The Mavericks star admitted after a loss this week, “I’m just feeling more tired on the court these last two games than anything,” and his shooting percentages in the fourth quarter are much lower than in any other quarter. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today explores the same topic, noting that Doncic is playing a career-high 36.9 MPG and has a usage rate of 39.14%, which would be the third-highest all-time behind Russell Westbrook’s 41.65% in 2016/17 and James Harden’s 40.47 in 2018/19.
  • With Zach Collins out approximately a month with a leg fracture, Charles Bassey has an opportunity to get rotation minutes at center for the Spurs, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News points out. “He kind of looks the part,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He doesn’t look like a deer in the headlights or anything like that.” Bassey signed a two-way contract with San Antonio in late October.

Southwest Notes: Washington, Porter, Zion, Morant, Bane

Rockets rookie first-round pick TyTy Washington was sent to Houston’s NBAGL affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, this week as he continues to rehabilitate from his sprained left knee, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

 “I’m excited,” Washington, the No. 29 pick out of Kentucky this summer, said. “I can’t wait. I can play and get my feet under me, go down there, have fun. This is the game I love. I can go down there and handle my business. And when I get back up here, get my moment and do what I’ll do down there and help win games.”

“He just needs to play,” Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. “We very obviously value the G League. Almost all of our players have spent real extensive time down there. It’s more of an abnormality for people not to. He’s coming off an injury. He needs to get back in game shape and play minutes. Right now, we don’t have that opportunity for him here.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Starting Rockets point guard Kevin Porter Jr. may have unlocked something as a passer lately, having averaged 11 assists per game across his last two contests, Feigen writes in a separate piece. “It’s just the flow of the game,” Porter said. “I’ve just been able to balance sharing the ball and taking my shots, knowing my guys, where they like the ball and just getting them where they’re open. It’s been easy to read these last couple games. I want to continue to do that and find my shots, too.”
  • Pelicans star forward Zion Williamson has struggled defensively thus far this season, to the point where William Guillory of The Athletic wonders if it could impact how far New Orleans can actually go in the postseason this year. Guillory notes that Williams has exhibited promising flashes as a defender thanks to his speed and strength, but overall has struggled communicating on the floor to teammates and has had trouble defending against dribble penetration.
  • Grizzlies All-Star point guard Ja Morant opines that he and breakout shooting guard Desmond Bane are the NBA’s current best backcourt, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “Top two, not [number] two,” Morant responded to a question about where the duo ranks among league backcourt tandems. “That’s the easiest question ever.” Morant was already an All-NBA guard, but Bane has taken a major leap in expanding his breadth as a scorer. “That was the goal this summer,” Bane said. “Not just be a 3-point shooter, be able to affect the game. Being able to set it up for myself and my teammates, getting to the free-throw line. All of that will help me remain consistent.”

Grizzlies’ Desmond Bane Fined $15K By NBA

Third-year wing Desmond Bane has been fined $15K for kicking the ball into the stands late in the fourth quarter of the Grizzlies‘ loss to the Celtics on Monday, the NBA announced today (via Twitter).

The 30th overall pick of the 2020 draft, Bane has been one of the best bargains in the league on his rookie scale contract, which pays him $2.1MM this season. Since he makes a modest amount compared to the estimate average salary of an NBA player in 2022/23 ($10,792,000), a $15K fine is obviously a more substantial penalty to Bane than it would be to someone who makes more money.

Bane is off to an outstanding start this season for the 8-4 Grizzlies, averaging career highs of 24.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists with a sparkling .467/.463/.898 shooting line in 11 games (33.5 minutes per night).

After Memphis picked up his $3,845,083 option for ’23/24 last month, Bane became eligible for a rookie scale extension next summer, and he’s a virtual lock to land a huge payday as one of the team’s best players.

Grizzlies Notes: Jackson, Bane, Brooks

Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr., who continues to recover from offseason foot surgery, began the team’s recent four-game road trip doing two-on-two workouts and has since advanced to three-on-three sessions, head coach Taylor Jenkins told reporters, including Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

The Grizzlies and Jenkins are hopeful that Jackson will be able to take another step forward in his rehabilitation process during the current three-game homestand.

“Next week we may get into the five-on-five,” Jenkins said on Friday, adding that Jackson is making good progress and his conditioning is improving. “We’re just going to see how his body is responding.”

When Jackson underwent surgery, the Grizzlies announced he would be sidelined for approximately four-to-six months. It has been just over four months since the team set that timeline, so it appears the 23-year-old remains on track in his recovery.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Desmond Bane appears to be developing into a legitimate play-maker and a star in his own right alongside Ja Morant, according to Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal, who notes that the third-year swingman has been more productive so far (24.1 PPG) than a number of players who signed nine-figure rookie scale extensions during the offseason. Bane will be eligible for a new extension of his own during the 2023 offseason and appears likely to become Memphis’ second highest-paid player behind Morant, says Giannotto.
  • Dillon Brooks‘ presence in the Grizzlies’ lineup helps takes the pressure off players like Bane, who would otherwise have to deal with a more difficult defensive assignment, Cole writes for The Commercial Appeal. “Him being back really helps, for sure,” Bane said. “My game is predicated on me running around on offense, too. If I’m chasing the best player on defense, that means I’m running all night, and regardless of what type of shape you’re in, that’s going to wear on you.” Brooks is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer.
  • In case you missed it, the Grizzlies will be facing a shorthanded Wizards team on Sunday, as Bradley Beal has been ruled out after entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Grizzlies Waive Killian Tillie, Pick Up Options On Three Players

The Grizzlies have officially completed a series of roster moves, setting their roster for the 2022/23 regular season and picking up multiple rookie scale options for ’23/24.

Most notably, Memphis has waived big man Killian Tillie, whose expiring $1,901,625 salary is fully guaranteed. Tillie has spent the last two seasons with the Grizzlies, averaging 3.3 PPG and 1.7 RPG in 36 games (12.8 MPG) in 2021/22.

The Grizzlies had 16 players with fully or partially guaranteed contracts, so one of them had to be cut to get to the 15-man regular season limit. Tillie, who will still receive his full salary, was the odd man out, as the club opted to keep Danny Green while he recovers from an ACL tear.

Memphis also waived Dakota Mathias, who was signed to an Exhibit 10 contract earlier in the week for G League purposes. Mathias is expected to report to the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ NBAGL affiliate.

The Grizzlies also announced today that they’ve exercised their 2023/24 team options on Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, and Santi Aldama. All three players will now have guaranteed salaries for ’23/24, with Bane earning $3,845,083, Williams earning $4,810,200, and Aldama making $2,194,200.

The moves had been expected, since Bane, Williams, and Aldama all appear set to play regular rotation roles for Memphis this coming season.

Grizzlies Among Teams Inquiring On Kevin Durant

The Grizzlies are showing interest in Kevin Durant and have made “new inquiries” on the Nets‘ star forward, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

As Charania writes within his round-up of the latest Durant-related rumors from around the NBA, the Grizzlies could include up to five first-round picks in a package for the two-time Finals MVP (their own 2023, 2025, 2027, and 2029 selections, plus Golden State’s top-four protected 2024 pick). The team also has a bevy of young talent on its roster beyond star guard Ja Morant, including Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, Brandon Clarke, Kennedy Chandler, and David Roddy.

However, according to Charania, Memphis hasn’t appeared inclined to offer Jackson or Bane (or, of course, Morant) in a deal for Durant, preferring to build an offer around their draft picks. Given that the Nets are reportedly seeking a win-now return for Durant, that sort of offer is unlikely to pique their interest, even if the picks are unprotected — those first-rounders may have to be rerouted to a third team that could send Brooklyn the kind of impact players the team is seeking.

While the Grizzlies are an intriguing new suitor for Durant, there are still a number of other teams in the mix. The Celtics, Raptors, and Heat remain among the most significant threats to land the 33-year-old, Charania says, though Toronto has continued to resist including Scottie Barnes and Miami has “yet to seriously engage” in any discussions involving Bam Adebayo. Boston, meanwhile, has been unwilling to include Marcus Smart or Robert Williams in addition to Jaylen Brown, Charania says.

The Suns also remain involved, offering up Mikal Bridges and a series of draft picks, according to Charania, but they appear to be behind those Eastern teams among Durant’s most serious suitors.

Charania identifies the Sixers, Bucks, Nuggets, and Pelicans as some of the other teams that have expressed interest in Durant, though he confirms that New Orleans deemed Brandon Ingram untouchable.

According to Charania, the Hawks also made an offer for Durant, putting John Collins, De’Andre Hunter, and a draft pick on the table. The details of that pick are unclear, but Atlanta could trade its own 2023 and 2029 first-rounders or Sacramento’s lottery-protected 2024 pick.

Although Charania doesn’t specify exactly how the Nets felt about the Hawks’ offer, he says none of Brooklyn’s discussions have gained any serious traction. There are still five weeks before training camps get underway, which could be a fraught week for the Nets, assuming Durant remains on the roster — it’s unclear whether or not he’ll show up to camp if his trade request hasn’t been granted.

Southwest Notes: KPJ, Bane, McCollum, Nance

Rockets point guard Kevin Porter Jr. appears to have earned a long-term look with the franchise. Houston and Porter have had initial discussions about the future of the extension-eligible 22-year-old, prompting Kelly Iko and Danny Leroux of The Athletic take a deep dive into what a new deal might look like for the fourth-year guard.

Leroux projects an annual number in the range of $10-15MM for Porter. Should the Rockets opt to not extend Porter and instead let him reach restricted free agency in the summer of 2023, Leroux notes that the market for the 6’4″ guard’s services could be dampened. Currently, just seven NBA clubs, including the Rockets, project to have cap space available to sign Porter for more than the mid-level exception.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Third-year Grizzlies shooting guard Desmond Bane has evolved into a reliable locker-room leader, despite his relative greenness, writes Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal“I’ve always been a vet [in terms of personal comportment], but now I’m a vet for real,” Bane said. “I don’t really think that too much has to change. I’ve always been the guy to lead by example, put my best foot in front of the other. That’s half of leadership right there.”
  • Pelicans veteran players CJ McCollum and Larry Nance Jr., new additions to the team at the 2022 trade deadline, are extension-eligible this summer. Will Guillory and Danny Leroux of The Athletic consider potential extension contracts for both New Orleans players. Christian Clark of writes that McCollum contributed as a versatile scorer and consistent ball-handler, while Nance helped the team in the less-glamorous role of flexible bench big. Clark notes that both players have shown interest in sticking around long term with an exciting young Pelicans club hot off its first playoff appearance in four years.
  • In case you missed it, the lucrative new extension inked by Pelicans power forward Zion Williamson includes a caveat that requires him to get consistent weigh-ins by New Orleans. Should the total of his body fat percentage and weight exceed 295, the team will be able to reduce the guaranteed portion of his salary.