Jaren Jackson Jr.

Grizzlies Expect Jackson, Winslow Back Within Next Week

The Grizzlies will be getting some reinforcements off the injured list soon as they continue their push to secure the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. The team announced today in a press release that forwards Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee) and Justise Winslow (back) are both likely to return to action within the next week.

Jackson, who is dealing with a sprained left knee, has been on the shelf since suffering that injury on February 21. Before going down, he was one of Memphis’ leading scorers, with 16.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 1.6 BPG in 54 contests (28.0 MPG).

As for Winslow, he has yet to actually appear in a game for the Grizzlies, having been acquired from the Heat in the three-team trade that sent Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder to Miami at last month’s deadline. The centerpiece of that trade from Memphis’ perspective, Winslow has been limited to just 11 games on the season due to injuries. In 2018/19, he recorded 12.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 4.3 APG in 66 games (29.7 MPG) for the Heat.

The Grizzlies have been holding their own without Jackson and Winslow — their 32-32 record gives them a four-game lead on the Pelicans and Kings for the West’s final playoff spot. Still, Memphis isn’t in the clear yet. New Orleans, in particular, is a candidate to make a run at the No. 8 seed, since the Pels have the league’s easiest schedule for the rest of the season, per Tankathon. The Grizzlies have the second-hardest rest-of-season slate.

Although Jackson and Winslow are close to returning, the same can’t be said for Brandon Clarke, who remains sidelined with a right quad strain. The Grizzlies’ announcement today did offer some optimism on Clarke’s recovery though, indicating that he’s still expected to return before the end of the season.

Jaren Jackson Jr. Sprains Left Knee

Stellar second-year Grizzlies power forward Jaren Jackson Jr. has sprained his left knee and will be re-evaluated in two weeks, according to Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian.

Jackson sustained the sprain after suffering a nasty fall late in the second quarter in Memphis’ 117-102 loss to the Lakers this past Friday. His loss is not insignificant for the ascendant Grizzlies, current holders of the Western Conference’s coveted No. 8 seed. Jackson ranks third on the team in minutes played per game (28), second in points per game (16.9), and fourth in average boards (4.7).

Jackson and rookie Ja Morant are the two core building block factors in a Grizzlies youth movement that has brought the team back to relevance. The Grizzlies are currently 28-28 after losing two straight contests following the extended All-Star break. That record puts them 3.5 games ahead of the 25-32 Trail Blazers (the No. 9 seed) and the 24-31 Spurs (the No. 10 seed). The Pelicans, Kings and Suns are all within 1.5 games of the Spurs’ record.

If the Grizzlies go on a sustained swoon in the standings with rookie Brandon Clarke absorbing most of Jackson’s minutes as the new starting four, one of these other playoff contenders may pounce. Memphis already had an external impediment to securing a postseason berth this year: the most competitive remaining schedule in the NBA, ranked by opponent record.

Jackson’s absence may mean more playing time for new center Gorgui Dieng and for forward Kyle Anderson.

Doncic, Young, Zion Headline Rising Stars Rosters

The NBA has officially announced the 20 rookies and sophomores who have been named to the league’s Rising Stars game for All-Star weekend. Those 20 players, selected by assistant coaches from around the league, will be divided into a U.S. Team and a World Team, as follows:

U.S. Team:

World Team:

Williamson’s inclusion is notable since he has appeared in just four games due to injuries. It’s not surprising that the NBA found a way to get him into the game, since he’s one of the most exciting prospects to enter the league in years, but it’s a tough break for youngsters who have been on the court since the fall for contenders, such as Sixers wing Matisse Thybulle. or Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr.

Snubbed players like Thybulle, Porter, and others could eventually make their way into the Rising Stars game if players have to pull out due to injuries, or if All-Stars like Doncic and Young opt not to play in both events.

The Rising Stars game will take place in Chicago on Friday, February 14.

Elfrid Payton Among Three Suspended For Knicks-Grizzlies Fight

The NBA has handed out the punishments for the fourth-quarter scuffle between the Knicks and Grizzlies brawl on Wednesday night.

According to the league, Knicks guard Elfrid Payton has been suspended one game for pushing Jae Crowder at the end of the contest. Grizzlies players Jaren Jackson Jr. and Marko Guduric have each been suspended one game for leaving the bench.

Crowder, who took the late-game three-pointer that irked the Knicks, did not get suspended but instead will receive a $25K fine. Marcus Morris has also been fined $35K for his role in escalating the fight.

The Memphis players will serve their suspensions on Friday when the team plays the Pelicans in New Orleans. Payton will miss Saturday’s contest against the Pacers.

For more details on the altercation, be sure to check out our earlier story.

Grizzlies/Knicks Fight Could Result In Suspensions

With less than a minute left in Wednesday’s Grizzlies/Knicks game and Memphis leading by 18 points, Grizzlies forward Jae Crowder stole an inbound pass and ran to the three-point line to get a shot up, drawing the ire of Knicks guard Elfrid Payton. As Crowder launched his three-pointer, Payton delivered a two-handed shove to his chest, knocking him over and instigating a scuffle between the players on the court (video link).

As Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes, the altercation could lead to fines and/or suspensions for some of the players involved. Payton, Crowder, and Marcus Morris were ejected from the game, with Payton receiving a flagrant 2 foul.

Payton, who seems like the most probable candidate for a suspension, expressed no remorse for his actions after the game, suggesting that Crowder “knows better” than to do what he did with the game’s outcome already decided, per Garrett Stepien and Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

“I’d do it again,” Payton said. “Didn’t matter who took that shot. Don’t disrespect the game like that … you just don’t do that.”

Barnes points out that Grizzlies players Jaren Jackson Jr. and Marko Guduric could also be subject to league discipline, since they left the team’s bench area during the incident before eventually being pulled back by assistant coaches. The NBA’s rules call for a one-game suspension for any player that leaves the bench to enter the fray during an on-court altercation.

The Knicks don’t play again until Saturday, but the Grizzlies are in action tomorrow, so if the NBA plans on handing out suspensions, we’ll hear about them before Friday night.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies/Knicks fracas:

  • As Mike Vornukov of The Athletic details, Morris faced a backlash after the game for using sexist language while criticizing Crowder’s “unprofessional” play. He’s just — a lot of female tendencies on the court, flopping and just throwing his head back the entire game,” the Knicks’ forward said. “And like I said, it’s a man’s game and you just get tired of it, man.
  • Morris, who may face NBA punishment for his comments about Crowder, later apologized on Twitter: “I apologize for using the term ‘female tendencies.’ I have the upmost respect for women and everything they mean to us. It was a heat of the moment response and I never intended for any women to feel as though in anyway I’m disrespecting them. Again I apologize for my comments.”
  • Following the late-game altercation, fans at Madison Square Garden aimed a “Sell the team” chant at owner James Dolan for about 20 seconds, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Dolan shouted at security during the chants, and a source tells Berman that the Knicks’ owner also singled out a teenager who was the nearest chanting fan in his vicinity.

Grizzlies Exercise Contract Options On Jackson Jr., Allen

The Grizzlies have exercised their 2020/21 contract options on big man Jaren Jackson Jr. and guard Grayson Allen, according to a team press release.

Jackson, the fourth pick in the 2018 draft, averaged 13.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG and 1.4 BPG during his rookie campaign. He’ll now make a guaranteed $7,257,360 next season after collecting approximately $6.93MM during his second season. The option was a mere formality for Memphis, which is building around Jackson and 2019 lottery pick Ja Morant.

Allen was selected with the No. 21 overall pick last year by the Jazz. He averaged 5.6 PPG in 10.9 MPG over 38 appearances with Utah.

Allen was part of the package Memphis received in the Mike Conley blockbuster. Allen, who is making approximately $2.43MM this season, will receive $2,545,320 in 2020/21. Allen is competing for minutes at shooting guard with Dillon Brooks and European import Marko Guduric.

Grizzlies’ Morant Ready For Camp; Melton Out 4-8 Weeks

The Grizzlies issued a series of injury updates on their players this afternoon, most notably announcing that No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant will be ready to fully participate in training camp next week. Morant, who sat out Summer League, is recovered from the minor arthroscopic procedure he underwent on his right knee in June, according to the team.

The Grizzlies also confirmed that Kyle Anderson (thoracic outlet decompression surgery), Dillon Brooks (toe surgery), and Jaren Jackson Jr. (thigh bruise) are good to go for training camp. Brooks and Jackson were dubbed “fully recovered,” while Memphis said that Anderson is “progressing as expected” in his recovery.

It wasn’t all good news for the Grizzlies though. According to the club, newly-acquired guard De’Anthony Melton has been diagnosed with a stress reaction in his back. The former Sun is undergoing off-loading and treatment to resolve the injury, and is expected to recover and resume basketball activities in about four to eight weeks.

Melton, the 46th overall pick in the 2018 draft, was traded from Houston to Phoenix a couple months after being drafted, then was dealt from the Suns to the Grizzlies earlier this summer. The 21-year-old averaged 5.0 PPG, 3.2 APG, and 2.7 RPG in 50 games (19.7 MPG) as a rookie and is expected to be Memphis’ third point guard behind Morant and Tyus Jones this season.

First though, he’ll have to get healthy. And with the Grizzlies’ opener less than four weeks away, it appears Melton will almost certainly miss the start of the regular season.

FIBA World Cup Notes: Barrett, Drummond, Adebayo

RJ Barrett will not participate in the 2019 FIBA World Cup for Canada due to a mild calf strain, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The most recent No. 3 overall pick will join Team Canada for training camp and team activities in Toronto. Barrett represented his country over the last four summers and helped the squad qualify for the World Cup.

There’s also Team USA news. Here is the latest, via USA Basketball’s website:

Southwest Notes: Murray, Arakji, Jackson Jr, Pelicans

Spurs guard Dejounte Murray is almost fully recovered from his torn ACL and is focused on getting ready for the 2019/20 season, Jabari Young details in a story for The Athletic.

Murray, 22, suffered the injury last preseason, a crushing blow to an organization hoping to feature him at starting point guard alongside the likes of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. He was overcome with emotion upon realizing his regular season ended before it even began.

“I’ve never been hurt before,” Murray said. “I pray to God it doesn’t happen again. It was just tears because I know all the hard work that I put in last (offseason). I put in a lot of work.”

Murray, who was drafted by the Spurs with the No. 29 pick in 2016, was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team during his second season. He’s expected to be a focal point in San Antonio’s offense heading into training camp this fall.

“I can’t wait (until) training camp because I’ll know who is on my team and who is not on my team,” Murray said. “I’m just excited to get to work. I want a championship bad, and I just want the players to want it as bad as me. So, if we all get on the same page and get a championship, then everybody is successful.”

  • The Mavericks have reached a summer league commitment with guard Wael Arakji, a promising young star from Lebanon who recently impressed at a free agent mini-camp with the team, a league source told Hoops Rumors. Arakji, 24, also hired agent Scott Nichols of Rize Management as representation to continue his pursuit of an NBA deal, quickly becoming a fan-favorite overseas and impressing Mavs officials during his workout.
  • Jaren Jackson Jr. has become the leader on the Grizzlies, but the team still needs more wing players to be competitive next season, Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian writes. Herrington outlines ten takes on the franchise after the draft, including what’s to come in free agency.
  • Zion Williamson is a match made in heaven for the Pelicans, William Guillory of The Athletic writes. New Orleans drafted Williamson No. 1 overall and plans to add him to a young core that includes Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and others.

Injury Updates: Anderson, J. Jackson, Ntilikina, THJ

Considering they haven’t seen any game action since January 30 and February 13 respectively, Grizzlies regulars Kyle Anderson and Jaren Jackson Jr. weren’t considered great bets to return to the court before the end of the regular season. Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff confirmed as much today, telling reporters – including Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal (Twitter link) – that both players are done for the season.

While a shoulder injury cut Anderson’s season short and a quad issue prevented Jackson from getting back on the court, both players figure to be building blocks for the Grizzlies as the team goes through a retooling period. Anderson still has three more years left on the contract he signed with the team last summer, while Jackson has three years remaining on his rookie deal.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • After re-aggravating a groin injury last weekend, Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina will be shut down for the rest of the season, the club announced today (via Twitter). It was a bit of a lost year for Ntilikina, who was limited to just 43 games due to injuries and an inconsistent role, and didn’t take a real step forward after an up-and-down rookie season. His place in the Knicks’ long-term future is unclear.
  • Mavericks wing Tim Hardaway Jr., who has already been ruled out for the season, will likely undergo surgery to insert a rod in his leg and repair his stress fracture, owner Mark Cuban said this week (Twitter link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com). Assuming he goes ahead with that procedure, Hardaway is expected to be recovered well before training camp begins in 2019/20.
  • In case you missed it, we passed along health updates on Dwight Howard, Dante Exum, and Luc Mbah a Moute on Thursday.