Jake LaRavia

Grizzlies Notes: Morant, Jones, LaRavia

Grizzlies star point guard Ja Morant is listed as doubtful to play on Saturday vs. Utah due to a non-COVID illness, the team announced (via Twitter). Morant was added to the injury report on Friday night and his status remains unchanged in the latest update.

An illness may be just about the only thing capable of slowing down Morant at this point. The All-NBA guard is off to a terrific start this season, averaging 32.6 points, 6.8 assists, and 4.4 rebounds per game in his first five contests (32.8 MPG), with an outrageous shooting line of .529/.565/.875. If the 4-1 Grizzlies and Morant stay hot, the 23-year-old could emerge as a legitimate MVP candidate this season.

Here’s more out of Memphis:

  • After re-signing with the Grizzlies this summer on a two-year, $29MM deal, Tyus Jones is playing a slightly bigger role and is facing a tougher challenge, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Jones, who is averaging a career-high 23.8 minutes per game so far, is one of the few holdovers in a second unit that lost De’Anthony Melton and Kyle Anderson and is currently without injured wing Ziaire Williams.
  • Those departures and injury absences have Jones looking for his own shot more and unable to maintain his usual league-leading assist-to-turnover ratio so far this season. Still, he’s not too worried about an up-and-down start, and remains focused on helping his teammates – including multiple rookies – get comfortable. “As far as our unit goes, (I’m) just talking to them before practice, during practice trying to help them on that learning curve as I can,” Jones said, per Cole. “That’s part of my job as a leader on this team.”
  • Injuries to Williams and Jaren Jackson Jr. have helped open up a regular rotation role for rookie forward Jake LaRavia, and the former Wake Forest standout showed on Thursday what he’s capable of providing the club, Cole notes in a separate Commercial Appeal story. LaRavia had 13 points and nine rebounds while making 3-of-4 three-pointers in Memphis’ win over Sacramento. “They drafted me here because I’m a shooter, play defense, too, and that’s what I’m going to do,” LaRavia said.
  • In case you missed it, the Grizzlies ranked 29th out of 30 NBA teams when Forbes released its annual franchise valuations. Forbes estimates the team to be worth $1.65 billion.

Grizzlies Notes: Crowder, Jackson Jr., PF, Clarke, Brooks, Adams, Green

Grizzlies star Ja Morant would like to reunite with former teammate Jae Crowder, who is sitting out training camp as the Suns seek a trade partner for the veteran forward. In reply to Crowder’s tweet about seeking work “where he is wanted..where he is needed,” Morant sent out a “back soon” emoji (Twitter link). In a separate tweet, Morant noted that Crowder hit a game-winning three in overtime to help him get his first NBA win.

Crowder didn’t shoot well in 45 games with Memphis in 2019/20, Morant’s rookie season, but he caught fire with Miami after being dealt away. Crowder has spent the past two seasons with Phoenix after signing a three-year, $29MM deal as a free agent in 2020. He’s making $10.2MM in ’22/23, the final season of his contract.

Here’s more from Memphis:

  • Starting power forward Jaren Jackson Jr. underwent surgery to repair a right foot stress fracture at the end of June, with the team saying he’d miss four-to-six months at that time. At Monday’s Media Day, executive vice president of basketball operations and general manager Zach Kleiman said that timeline remains accurate. However, Jackson said that while he’s unlikely to suit up for opening night, he believes he’s ahead of the team’s schedule (Twitter links via Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian). Jackson hopes to win Defensive Player of the Year in ’22/23 after coming fifth last season, tweets Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I want it badly,” Jackson said.
  • With Jackson injured, second-year big man Santi Aldama was the first name to pop up as a possible replacement in the starting lineup from both Kleiman and head coach Taylor Jenkins, but Jenkins said that there are a number of other candidates for the role, including Brandon Clarke, Ziaire Williams, Dillon Brooks, Xavier Tillman, David Roddy and Jake LaRavia, so it sounds like there might be a training camp battle for the job, or even fluctuate depending on matchups (Twitter links from Cole).
  • Speaking about the contract statuses of Clarke, Brooks and Steven Adams, all of whom are extension-eligible, Kleiman didn’t want to go into specifics of negotiations, but he said the Grizzlies like all three players. “We view them as potential long-term pieces of our group,” Kleiman said, per Cole (via Twitter). Clarke would be a restricted free agent in 2023 if he doesn’t receive an extension, while Brooks and Adams would both be unrestricted. In case you missed, we broke down what an extension for Clarke might look like earlier today.
  • Despite being injured with a torn ACL, it doesn’t sound like veteran wing Danny Green is in danger of being waived anytime soon. “Danny Green is part of this group,” Kleiman said, adding that Memphis expects Green to return in ’22/23. However, his status as a free agent next summer is “to be determined.” (Twitter link via Cole). Green has a nearly $7MM partial guarantee on his $10MM contract this season, so he could be used as a trade chip for salary-matching purposes, but it also makes it expensive to waive him. If the Grizzlies retain Green, Killian Tillie is probably the odd man out, as the team is facing a roster crunch. Tillie will earn a guaranteed $1.9MM this season.

Southwest Notes: Murphy, LaRavia, Porter, Spurs

Like most rookies, Trey Murphy faced a difficult adjustment to the NBA, writes Ethan Fuller of Basketball News. After being a star in college, the 17th pick in last year’s draft saw minimal playing time during his first few months with the Pelicans. That changed in March and April as the team went on a late-season run and advanced past the play-in tournament, but Murphy admits the start of his career was challenging.

“Those times when I was struggling [and] wasn’t playing a lot — that’s when I really learned a lot about myself and just staying the course, because the NBA is so much of a mental aspect and a mental game that you have to worry about,” Murphy said. “You could be doing a lot of good stuff physically and on the court, but if your mentals aren’t right, there’s gonna be a lot of stuff that’s happening that won’t affect you in a positive way.”

Murphy eventually became a regular part of the rotation in New Orleans, averaging 19.5 minutes per game after March 9 while contributing 9.7 points and 3.4 rebounds and shooting 43.8% from three-point range. Heading into his second NBA season, Murphy has increased his weight to 215 pounds and showed in Summer League that he’s willing to take on contact.

“I’m just getting a lot smarter too,” he said. “Just knowing what’s coming next, so you’re able to brace for things; you’re able to absorb force as well as distribute force when need be.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Jake LaRavia fizzled out during Summer League after sinking four three-pointers in his first game, but the Grizzlies aren’t concerned about his lack of production, according to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Kennedy Chandler was the only legitimate point guard on the team this summer, and the Grizzlies are confident that LaRavia will get plenty of open shots playing alongside Ja Morant.
  • The Rockets and Kevin Porter Jr. are both hoping to reach an extension agreement before the new season starts, Kelly Iko of the Athletic states in a look at players around the league who have the most to prove. Whether the extension happens or not, Houston is counting on Porter to prove that he can be the team’s long-term answer at point guard.
  • The Spurs appear headed for their worst season in 25 years and will need some good fortune to turn things around quickly, writes Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News.

Southwest Notes: Mavs’ Roster, Jackson Fill-In, Porter Jr.

The Mavericks will look to keep their 15th roster spot open as the season approaches for a variety of reasons, as Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News explains.

Dallas doesn’t have the assets or interest to pursue trades for either Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving, but could sign a role player waived after other teams make a significant deal. The Mavericks will also maintain the flexibility to bring in a player in a trade without having to cut someone on a guaranteed contract.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

Grizzlies Sign Three Draft Picks, Kenneth Lofton Jr.

The Grizzlies have signed first-round draft picks Jake LaRavia and David Roddy to multi-year contracts, the team tweets.

LaRavia, who played for Wake Forest last season, was acquired by Memphis with the No. 19 overall pick pursuant to a draft-night trade with the Timberwolves. His rookie scale contract, under the latest salary cap, could go four years and can be worth up to $14,763,367.

Roddy, who played for Colorado State last season, was acquired by the Grizzlies with the No. 23 overall pick after a trade with the 76ers. His rookie scale deal can go four years and be worth up to $12,985,886.

[RELATED: Rookie Scale Salaries For 2022 NBA First-Round Picks]

The Grizzlies also announced that wing Vince Williams Jr. and big man Kenneth Lofton Jr. have signed two-way contracts (Twitter link).

Williams Jr., the No. 47 overall pick of this year’s draft, was selected to the 2021/22 All-Atlantic 10 First Team during his senior year at VCU.

The Grizzlies’ decision to give Lofton a two-way deal was previously reported. He was named to the All-Conference USA First Team during his sophomore year at Louisiana Tech last season but went undrafted.

With Williams and Lofton on two-way deals, the Grizzlies have waived guard Tyrell Terry, who signed a two-year, two-year contract last season. Terry, drafted by Dallas in 2020, appeared in two games with Memphis in ’21/22.

The Grizzlies still have one unsigned draftee, No. 38 pick Kennedy Chandler. His deal will likely be completed once the July moratorium ends.

Grizzlies Acquire No. 19 Pick Jake LaRavia From Wolves

JUNE 24: The trade is complete, the Grizzlies and Timberwolves announced in a pair of press releases. Officially, LaRavia’s draft rights head to Memphis along with a 2023 second-round pick in exchange for the draft rights to No. 22 pick Walker Kessler and No. 29 pick TyTy Washington.

It’s unclear if that ’23 second-rounder is Minnesota’s own or the Knicks’ second-round pick that the Wolves acquired earlier in the draft.

The Wolves are flipping Washington to the Rockets in a separate trade.


JUNE 23: The Grizzlies have agreed to acquire the No. 19 pick from the Timberwolves and will select Wake Forest forward Jake LaRavia, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). In exchange, Minnesota will receive the No. 22 and No. 29 selections in tonight’s draft, with the Grizzlies also gaining a second-round pick, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links).

It’s apparently a 2023 second-rounder, Chris Hine of the Star Tribune tweets.

LaRavia, who spent two seasons at Indiana State, moved up draft boards in recent weeks after averaging 14.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG and 3.7 APG for the Demon Deacons last season. With Kyle Anderson entering free agency, LaRavia could compete for a rotation spot in his rookie campaign.

He improved his stock during workouts, as he was originally projected as a borderline first-rounder.

Parlaying two first-rounders for the No. 19 selection doesn’t seem like great value, as Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian notes, but Grizzlies executive Zach Kleiman is unfazed by perceptions as long as he gets the player he wants. Kleiman has traded up for every pick on his watch with the exception of Ja Morant, Herrington adds (Twitter links).

Scotto’s Latest: Portis, Johnson, Graham, Nets, Batum, More

Within his latest round-up of NBA rumors, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype confirms a number of items that have been previously reported or speculated. According to Scotto, Bucks forward Bobby Portis is widely expected to decline his $4.56MM player option to become a free agent, the Lakers are considered a strong bet to pick up Stanley Johnson‘s $2.35MM team option, and Pelicans guard Devonte’ Graham is available in trade talks.

Scotto’s article includes several other intriguing tidbits related to the draft, free agency, and the trade market. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Nets have fielded trade inquiries on Joe Harris and Cam Thomas, according to Scotto, who says rival executives believe Brooklyn could potentially get a first-round pick in exchange for Thomas. While there’s a sense that Harris might be more available than in previous years due to the Nets’ February acquisition of Seth Curry, the team still believes Harris would be a useful piece on next year’s roster due to his ability to help on the boards and space the floor around Ben Simmons, Scotto writes.
  • The Timberwolves, Grizzlies, and Bucks are among the teams that have inquired about the No. 14 overall pick, currently held by the Cavaliers, league sources tell HoopsHype. Scotto previously reported that Cleveland would be open to the idea of moving down in the draft if it meant acquiring a future first-round pick.
  • Rival executives who spoke to Scotto believe veteran forward Nicolas Batum could be in line for a deal worth $10MM per year after turning down his player option. The Clippers would have the ability to go that high to re-sign Batum using his Early Bird rights.
  • Wake Forest forward Jake LaRavia has visited Milwaukee and worked out for the Bucks twice during the pre-draft process, Scotto reports. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who previously identified LaRavia as a player on Milwaukee’s radar, has him ranked 28th on ESPN’s big board of 2022 prospects. The Bucks hold the 24th overall pick.

Givony’s Latest: Sharpe, Magic, Kings, Duarte, Suns, Knicks, More

Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe, perhaps the biggest enigma of the 2022 NBA draft, is the subject of several rumors in Jonathan Givony’s latest mock draft at ESPN.com (Insider link).

Givony has Sharpe coming off the board at No. 7 to Portland, writing that Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard is believed to be a fan of the young guard, despite the fact that Sharpe is 12 years younger than Lillard and is on a “completely different timetable.”

A pair of teams picking later in the lottery may also have their sights set on Sharpe. The Thunder, who hold the No. 12 pick, continue to pursue trade-up opportunities, according to Givony, who says Sharpe and Jaden Ivey are among the players Oklahoma City appears to be targeting.

Meanwhile, Sharpe is also said to intrigue the Hornets if they trade up from No. 13, Givony writes, noting that the Kentucky guard surprised other teams when he opted to work out for Charlotte.

Here are a few more of the most interesting tidbits from Givony’s newest mock:

  • Virtually every NBA team expects the Magic to select Jabari Smith first overall and would be surprised if they go in a different direction.
  • The Kings are considered more likely to stand pat than to trade the No. 4 pick, but they’ve had discussions with almost every team behind them in the lottery and even some outside of the lottery, per Givony. Pacers wing Chris Duarte is among the possible trade targets the Kings have done their homework on, Givony adds.
  • Surprisingly, Givony has heard the Suns are among the clubs exploring trade scenarios involving the Pelicans‘ No. 8 pick. Givony suggests Phoenix could potentially include a player like Cameron Johnson in its offer to help create more long-term cap flexibility to retain Deandre Ayton.
  • There’s a widespread belief that the Knicks won’t end up picking at No. 11, Givony reports. they’re “aggressively” exploring scenarios in which they trade back or trade out of the first round.
  • Rival teams believe the Cavaliers are high on Ousmane Dieng, though he could be off the board by No. 14, says Givony.
  • Echoing multiple recent reports, Givony identifies Hawks big man John Collins as a major draft-day trade candidate. Givony goes a step further, suggesting that Collins could even be packaged with Kevin Huerter in a deal involving the Kings‘ No. 4 overall pick.
  • The Bucks (No. 24) are eyeing older prospects who could help them win right away, such as Andrew Nembhard, Jake LaRavia, Christian Braun and Ismael Kamagate, according to Givony, who has heard from rival teams that Milwaukee has also conveyed some interest in trading up into the teens, possibly for a big man like Mark Williams and Walker Kessler.

Central Notes: Allen, Pacers Draft, Sharpe, Bucks Draft

Bucks wing Grayson Allen underwent a surgical procedure on his left ring finger, according to The Associated Press.

“A lot of times, guys do maintenance-type stuff, routine stuff in the offseason to kind of get ready,” general manager Jon Horst said. “It was good for him to kind of approach it in the offseason. It’ll be fine. There’s no kind of lasting effects.”

Allen, whose two-year, $18.7MM extension kicks in next season, averaged 11.1 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 27.3 MPG during the regular season.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers will work out six more draft prospects on Monday, according to the team’s website writer Wheat Hotchkiss. As previously reported, that group includes projected lottery pick Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky). The other prospects who will visit include Jake LaRavia (Wake Forest), Alfonso Plummer (Illinois), Jermaine Samuels (Villanova), Aaron Thompson (Butler), and Vince Williams Jr. (VCU).
  • Speaking of Sharpe, he held a Zoom press conference on Friday and said he’d fit well with the Pacers if they use their lottery pick (No. 6 overall) on him. “I feel like I could really play with those guys just because they have good guys that can really handle the ball, play defense, switch on defense,” Sharpe said to The Indianapolis Star’s James Boyd and other media members. “I feel like I can score and really impact the game.” Sharpe is certainly not lacking in confidence. “I see myself being one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball,” he said.
  • The Bucks hold the No. 24 pick and could be in the market for a wing player. The Athletic’s Eric Nehm takes a look at nine prospects who could potentially be available at that spot, including LaRavia, MarJon Beauchamp and Patrick Baldwin Jr.

Draft Workout Notes: Kings, Wizards, Wolves, Jazz, More

The Kings hosted several prospects for pre-draft workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday, the team announced (Twitter links).

The Tuesday group featured Trey McGowens, Ziga Samar, Ron Harper Jr., Brady Manek and Dallas Walton. Wednesday’s group was Jacob Gilyard, Fatts Russell, Yoan Makoundou, Karlo Matkovic, Yannick Nzosa and Kai Sotto.

The Kings control the fourth, 37th and 49th picks in the 2022 draft, and a handful of those players could be targets with one of those second-round picks. Nzosa, Samar, Harper and Matkovic are ranked between 53rd and 58th on ESPN’s big board.

Here are more workout-related notes from around the NBA: