Jaren Jackson Jr.

Southwest Notes: Green, Tate, Rockets, Grizzlies

The Mavericks announced today (via Twitter) that they are sending rookie shooting guard Josh Green to join the Salt Lake City Stars, the G League affiliate of the Jazz, in the NBAGL’s ongoing Orlando “bubble” campus.

Dallas’s own G League affiliate, the Texas Legends, is not participating in this year’s G League season. Green started in five games for the Mavericks earlier this season, but has been riding the bench recently. He is averaging 12.5 MPG across 17 contests.

There’s more out of the Southwest:

  • Rookie Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate has proven to be Houston’s iron man this season, the only player to suit up for every game after P.J. Tucker sat with a bruised thigh, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Tate has been an important element of the Rockets’ frontcourt given the recent injuries to Christian Wood, Tucker, and Ray Spalding.
  • Long-injured young Grizzlies players Jaren Jackson Jr. and Justise Winslow have joined their teammates in portions of practice, according to Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Jackson is recovering from a torn left meniscus and Winslow is working his way back from a left hip displacement.
  • Despite severe winter weather in Texas, the Rockets still intend to return to Houston ahead of their scheduled contests on Friday (against the Mavericks) and Saturday (against the Pacers), according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. There is a chance these games are ultimately postponed as a result of continuing water and power trouble in Texas, Feigen notes. “If playing basketball games makes sense we will,” head coach Stephen Silas said about the situation. “If it doesn’t, Houstonians are most important and the thing that we should all be thinking about as we go home.”

Southwest Notes: Winslow, JJJ, Aldridge, DeRozan, Rockets

Justise Winslow, who has yet to appear in a game for the Grizzlies since being acquired nearly a year ago at the 2020 trade deadline, hopes to return to the court later this month, he said on Monday. As Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes, Memphis’ lengthy hiatus due to contact tracing in January set Winslow back slightly due to a lack of practice opportunities, but he’s getting close.

“I’m feeling great, my hip feels great. I’m really close to getting back on the court, hopefully sometime this month,” the Grizzlies forward said. “I really don’t have an exact day in mind. Just with COVID and how our team had to miss almost a week of practice and that sort of thing, that set me back, just without being able to have proper access to workouts and things like that.”

Meanwhile, Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. will have his rehab process ramped up in the coming weeks as he looks to return from meniscus surgery, as Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian reports (via Twitter). Herrington doesn’t anticipate Jackson will return to action before the first half ends on March 4, but there’s no set timeline yet for the 21-year-old’s season debut (Twitter link).

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • People around the NBA are curious to see what the Spurs will do with veterans LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, who are both on expiring contracts, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Aldridge’s value is “declining quickly,” according to O’Connor, who believes that DeRozan might be the best player on the trade market if San Antonio were to make him available.
  • Within the same story, O’Connor notes that some executives around the NBA are wondering if the Rockets could end up being a buyer – rather than a seller – at the trade deadline. O’Connor expects teams to call about Victor Oladipo and P.J. Tucker, who will both be free agents this summer, but suggests Houston shouldn’t feel any pressure to make a deal. The club could entertain any favorable opportunities that arise, whether that means buying or selling, O’Connor adds.
  • The Rockets got back to .500 on Saturday night by winning their fifth consecutive game, prompting head coach Stephen Silas to express that his club is “moving in the right direction for sure.” Kelly Iko of The Athletic has the story on Houston’s recent hot streak, as well as Oladipo’s comfort level, Christian Wood‘s All-Star case, and the team’s strong depth.

Southwest Notes: Griffin, Ball, Jackson Jr., Winslow, Doncic

Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin discussed the trade rumors surrounding his team, explaining in an appearance on ESPN Radio how he addresses them with players.

New Orleans has opened the season with a disappointing 6-10 record, prompting multiple teams to reportedly inquire on the availability of Lonzo Ball and J.J. Redick.

“The truth is when you’re 6-10 and struggling to finish off games and disappointed in your results, teams are going to recognize that and they are going to show interest in the players they covet,” Griffin said as part of a larger quote, as relayed by ESPN’s Andrew Lopez (Twitter link).

In addition to Ball and Redick, New Orleans could also receive interest on veteran point guard Eric Bledsoe in the coming weeks. The NBA’s trade deadline falls on March 25 this season.

Here are some other notes from the Southwest Division:

  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype examines five potential trade destinations for Ball, listing teams such as the Knicks and Clippers as possible suitors if the Pelicans choose to move him. Ball has appeared in 13 games this season, averaging 11.8 points on 39% shooting from the floor and 30% shooting from deep.
  • It remains unclear when Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. and forward Justise Winslow will return, Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commerical Appeal writes. No specific timetables have been issued on Jackson, who is recovering from a torn meniscus, or Winslow, who is rehabbing a hip injury. “I think from a plan and rehab and recovery and return to play standpoint, everyone’s been doing a great job,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said. “We’ve got a lot of confidence that these guys will be back soon and be in a great spot health-wise, too.”
  • Tim MacMahon of ESPN explores the rise of the Mavericks‘ Luka Doncic, one that happened sooner than most people expected. Doncic has cemented himself as a superstar at the young age of 21, averaging 27.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 9.7 assists in 17 games this season.

Southwest Notes: Alexander-Walker, Harden, Porzingis, Jackson

Continued improvement and consistency from Nickeil Alexander-Walker could make it more feasible for the Pelicans to move Lonzo Ball down the road, Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Times-Picayune writes. Alexander-Walker, a first-round pick in 2019, erupted for a career-high 37 points against the Clippers on Wednesday.

“The big measure for young guys is not what happens when everything is rolling your way,” Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It’s what happens when you’re having a frustrating night.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets defeated the Spurs in their first game since the James Harden trade and rookie forward Jae’Sean Tate  said the team was determined to put up a unified front, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. Houston also played without the most prominent player it acquired, Victor Oladipo, as well as injured guards John Wall and Eric Gordon. “There’s a lot of guys — on the team and coaching staff and the GM — everybody has so much to prove,” Tate said.
  • Kristaps Porzingis‘ season debut reinforced the feeling that he may be best suited at power forward, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. Porzingis often played center last season when Dwight Powell injured his Achilles. The Mavericks are unbeaten this season since Willie Cauley-Stein became the starter at center. The Mavs are likely to keep Porzingis at power forward for the time being, Townsend adds.
  • Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. vows that he’ll return to action this season, as he told Marc Spears of The Undefeated. He suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee in August. “I’ll be back this [season]. Who knows when, but it won’t be too long,” he said.

Grizzlies Exercise Options On Four Players

The Grizzlies have exercised contract options for the 2021/22 season on Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Clarke and Grayson Allen, the team announced in a press release (via Twitter).

Morant, the second pick in the 2019 draft, had an outstanding first season, capturing Rookie of the Year honors and helping the Grizzlies reach the playoffs. He averaged 17.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 7.3 assists in 67 games. Morant is part of the foundation for the future in Memphis, along with Jackson, the fourth overall pick in 2018, who averaged 17.4 points and 1.6 blocks per game last season.

Clarke set a rookie record in 2019/20 by shooting 61.8% from the floor. He posted a 12.1/5.9/1.4 line in 58 games, earning a spot on the All-Rookie team and finishing fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting. Allen, who was acquired from the Jazz last summer, averaged 8.7 PPG in 38 games in his first season with the Grizzlies.

Morant’s third-year option for ’21/22 will be worth $9.6MM, while Clarke’s has a value of $2.7MM. The fourth-year options for Jackson and Allen will pay them $9.2MM and $4.1MM, respectively.

Southwest Notes: Porzingis, Jackson Jr., Winslow, Metu

There’s no timetable for Kristaps Porzingis to return to action following knee surgery, but he’s optimistic about his recovery, tweets Dwain Price of Mavs.com. Porzingis underwent a procedure in October to repair the meniscus in his right knee and won’t be available when the season starts.

“The only thing I know is that I’m recovering well, and that’s the most important thing,” he said. “We’ll see. I would like to start as soon as possible and I’m doing all the things necessary to do that.”

Porzingis hurt his knee in the first game of Dallas’ playoff series against the Clippers and played two more games with the injury. The Mavericks hope he will be cleared to resume on-court activities by January 1.

“I think I’m pretty close to being able to get some shots up,” Porzingis said. “We’re just taking it easy, we’re taking our time, but I’m pretty much there and I can’t wait to start doing more stuff. But I have to be smart, I have to be patient.” (Twitter link)

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks tried to get a higher pick in the first round of last night’s draft, but weren’t able to work out a deal, tweets Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. General manager Donnie Nelson said the team also had opportunities to move down, but didn’t want to pass up Josh Green with the 18th pick.
  • The Grizzlies will have to start the new season without  Jaren Jackson Jr. and Justise Winslow, writes Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Executive VP of basketball operations Zach Kleiman confirmed that both players aren’t fully recovered from injuries that sidelined them last season. Winslow, who had an injured hip, is expected back before Jackson, who underwent knee surgery in August. “I would say that Justise is going to return early this season. It might not be day one, but no setbacks,” Kleiman said. “He’s been in our facility in Memphis, working out twice a day, doing an awesome job in his rehab and we’ll be excited to have him early in the season.”
  • Spurs center Chimezie Metu has changed agents, signing with Wasserman’s Darren Matsubara, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

Southwest Notes: Zion, J. Jackson, Belinelli, Cash

After playing limited minutes and sitting in crunch time during the Pelicans‘ first two games – both losses – Zion Williamson logged 25 minutes and was a key contributor down the stretch as New Orleans closed out a Monday win over Memphis. After the game, Williamson told ESPN’s Malika Andrews that he “felt alive again,” per Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

“I ain’t gonna lie to you, it’s just different in a bad way when I’m on the bench in the fourth quarter, and there’s nothing I can do to help my team win,” Williamson said. “So I said I felt alive — it was just great to be out there doing whatever I can to help my team win.”

In addition to Williamson’s contributions, the Pelicans also got 24 points and some key late baskets from Brandon Ingram, while Josh Hart chipped in 15 points and Lonzo Ball was a game-best +15. The performances prompted head coach Alvin Gentry to praise his young core after the win.

“When you have two really young players (Williamson and Ingram) like that who stepped up for you, and Josh Hart, you know, Josh is a very young kid, too,” Gentry said. “I think if you look at it, we have a good, young nucleus of players along with some of the veteran guys we have.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer explores the impact that losing Jaren Jackson Jr. will have on the Grizzlies‘ push to secure a playoff spot. As O’Connor writes, Memphis is well ahead of schedule in its rebuild and should be pleased with the season as a whole, but there’s a chance it will end on a “decidedly sour note.”
  • Speaking of Jackson, he’s staying at the Walt Disney World campus for now, according to Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins (Twitter link via ESPN’s Malika Andrews). However, Jackson may need to leave at some point for treatment and/or rehab work related to his meniscus tear, Jenkins acknowledged.
  • Spurs guard Marco Belinelli, who sprained his left ankle during the team’s first game of the restart last week, is active today after missing a pair of games, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News.
  • David Aldridge of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at Pelicans VP of basketball operations and team development Swin Cash, who is the first Black woman to hold such a high-ranking basketball ops position for an NBA franchise.

Jaren Jackson Jr. Out For Season With Meniscus Tear

Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. has been diagnosed with a meniscus tear in his left knee, the team announced today in a press release. The injury, which Jackson sustained during Monday’s loss to the Pelicans, will cause him to miss the rest of the 2019/20 season, according to the club.

Jackson, who will turn 21 in September, is one of Memphis’ most important young building blocks, along with Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke. In his second NBA season, Jackson averaged 17.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 1.6 BPG on .469/.394/.747 shooting in 57 games (28.5 MPG). He missed some time in February and March with a sprain to the same left knee that is now injured again.

Although Jackson is expected to make a full recovery, the injury is an unfortunate development for both him and the Grizzlies, who are clinging to the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference.

Having lost their first three games since play resumed this summer, the Grizzlies are now just two games ahead of the Trail Blazers and Spurs and 2.5 games up on New Orleans. Hanging onto that No. 8 spot – in the eight seeding games and possibly in a play-in tournament – will become an even greater challenge now that Memphis is missing its second-leading scorer.

With Jackson unavailable, the Grizzlies figure to lean more heavily on frontcourt rotation players like Clarke, Jonas Valanciunas, and Anthony Tolliver. Josh Jackson and Gorgui Dieng are among the bench players who should move up on the depth chart.

Jackson, meanwhile, will shift his focus to next season, when he’s under contract for $7.26MM. He’ll become eligible for a rookie scale extension during the 2021 offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lou Williams Expected To Play In Restart; Beal Still Undecided

Seven players so far have opted out of the NBA’s restart this summer, but Clippers guard Lou Williams is unlikely to join that group. Despite previously expressing uncertainty about his status, Williams is expected to suit up for the Clippers as they pursue a title at Walt Disney World, head coach Doc Rivers said on Wednesday.

“As far as Lou, all indications (are) that yes, he is (playing),” Rivers said on a Zoom call, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. “Obviously, up until we get on the plane, anything can happen. But I do expect Lou to be with us. I would be very surprised if he’s not.”

Meanwhile, another high-scoring guard, Bradley Beal, remains uncertain about his status for Orlando, as Youngmisuk writes in a separate story. Beal’s teammate Davis Bertans has already pulled out due to injury concerns ahead of his upcoming free agency. Beal’s backcourt mate and fellow All-Star John Wall won’t be in attendance either, as he continues to focus on his Achilles rehab and a 2020/21 return.

According to Youngmisuk, Beal is considering health factors too as he weighs his options.

“I have yet to make (my decision),” Beal told reporters on Wednesday. “I am still working my tail off every single day as if I am playing. It is more or less a decision that will come down to the medical staff and coming back from zero to 100, and then I have some nagging stuff from the end of the year that we are trying to clean up, too. We are looking at it from all angles. I am definitely working out every single day here. It is good to be back in the facility. … I am not swayed one way or another.”

Here’s more on certain players’ participation decisions:

Southwest Notes: Jackson Jr., Ivey, Rivers, D’Antoni

The Grizzlies will have to defend their playoff position if the NBA can salvage a significant amount of its regular season, but Jaren Jackson Jr. doesn’t mind as long as he can get back to basketball, writes Jason Munz of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Memphis held a three-and-a-half-game cushion over the Trail Blazers, Pelicans and Kings for the eighth spot when the hiatus began. The NBA has discussed scenarios that include going straight to the playoffs or fitting in a few more regular-season games.

“I mean, whatever. I’m down just to play, honestly,” Jackson said. “I know there’s talks about if they need games before the playoffs to get us ready for the playoffs, or they just want to hop right into (the postseason). I would be cool with either, honestly. We’re in the playoffs (if the regular season ended today), so I’m biased. I’d rather just run it.”

Jackson, who is among the many players without access to a basketball hoop during the shutdown, also addressed the potential adjustment of playing in empty arenas.

“I think we’ve all, at some point, played AAU or some form of it,” he said. “Whether you were overseas or not, like, you played a certain type of amateur basketball that is kind of like that. So it will definitely remind you of that and bring back memories. I think everybody will be fine, honestly.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies assistant Niele Ivey is the new women’s basketball coach at Notre Dame, the team announced today. She came to Memphis in the offseason after 12 years as an assistant with the Fighting Irish. “In her first year with the Memphis Grizzlies, Niele made a lasting impact on the floor, but even more so off the floor through her relationships with the players, fellow coaches and staff, including the relationship we built coach-to-coach,” said Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins.
  • Rockets guard Austin Rivers is likely to opt out of his $2.4MM salary for next season and test free agency, states Danny Leroux of The Athletic, who previews Houston’s offseason along with Kelly Iko. The Rockets hold Early Bird rights on Rivers and can start his new contract at nearly $10MM per season without having to use their mid-level exception.
  • If Houston decides to part with head coach Mike D’Antoni, who is in the final year of his contract, Leroux suggests the Pelicans might be his best destination. Of course, that could only happen if New Orleans decides to fire coach Alvin Gentry. Leroux notes that D’Antoni has connections with Pelicans VP of basketball operations David Griffin from their time together in Phoenix and might bring the best offensive philosophy to help develop Zion Williamson.