Joakim Noah

Grizzlies Notes: Bickerstaff, Conley, FAs, Anderson

J.B. Bickerstaff‘s first full season with the Grizzlies may have been a little underwhelming in terms of the team’s win-loss record (33-49), but given all the injury problems that plagued the team throughout the year, it seems the team is happy with his performance. General manager Chris Wallace said as much today, telling reporters that Memphis plans to bring Bickerstaff back for next season, according to David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“J.B. and his staff did a great job keeping everybody together and improving both individually and team-wise down the stretch,” Wallace said.

As for his own future, Wallace said he and owner Robert Pera have yet to sit down for their end-of-season meeting. However, he didn’t sound particularly concerned about his job security, per Cobb.

“That’s between me and Robert,” Wallace said. “I don’t want to go into that publicly. I’m very comfortable here and comfortable working with him and really not worried about my situation at all.”

[UPDATE: The Grizzlies have fired Bickerstaff and re-assigned Wallace]

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • According to Cobb, Wallace said today that he expects the Grizzlies to continue listening to trade offers for point guard Mike Conley this offseason, though that doesn’t mean Conley will be moved. “Teams are going to continue to knock on our door leading up to the draft and into the summer,” Wallace said. “We value Mike. We’d love to keep moving forward with him. We’ll see where it goes.”
  • The Grizzlies would like to retain the players they acquired in exchange for Marc Gasol at the trade deadline, including Jonas Valanciunas and Delon Wright, Wallace said today (via Cobb). Valanciunas has a player option for 2019/20; Wright will be eligible for restricted free agency. According to Wallace, Valanciunas is “a true Memphis Grizzly” who has loved playing in Memphis, while Wright “fit in very well both on and off the floor.”
  • Forward Kyle Anderson will undergo thoracic outlet decompression surgery next week on his right shoulder, the Grizzlies announced in a press release. He’s expected to make a full recovery and should be ready to go for the 2019/20 season, according to the team.
  • Joakim Noah will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and there’s no guarantee he’ll stick with the Grizzlies, but he appreciates that the club was willing to take a chance on him following his disastrous stint in New York. “Memphis was the only team that showed me any consideration,” Noah told ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Asked if he expects to remain on an NBA roster next season, Noah replied, “F— yeah.”

Grizzlies Notes: Bradley, Noah, Caboclo, Carter

The fate of the Grizzlies‘ first-round pick might influence whether the team brings back Avery Bradley next season, according to Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian. Acquired from the Clippers at the trade deadline, Bradley has a $12.96MM contract for 2019/20 that doesn’t become guaranteed until July 3.

Unless the team undergoes major changes during the summer, Memphis will be keeping a close eye on its luxury tax situation. The Grizzlies made Mike Conley available prior to the deadline, but if he returns and Jonas Valanciunas and C.J. Miles both opt in, their contracts – along with Chandler Parsons – will put the team over the salary cap. Memphis would be pushed into tax territory if it keeps Bradley while bringing back restricted free agent Delon Wright, signing a high lottery pick and using its mid-level exception.

The Grizzlies’ pick will convey to Boston if it falls out of the top eight. Memphis is in sixth place in our latest Reverse Standings, three games above the Mavericks and Pelicans, who are tied for eighth. Bradley has been good since joining the Grizzlies, averaging 15.3 PPG in six games, but Herrington says the decision will come down to whether management views him as a bargain at next year’s salary.

There’s more out of Memphis, all courtesy of Herrington:

  • The Grizzlies would welcome back Joakim Noah, but at age 34, he may be more interested in joining a contender. After a disastrous experience in New York, the veteran center has resurrected his career in Memphis. However, the Grizzlies don’t have his Bird rights, so they would have to either open cap room or use an exception to pay him more than the veteran’s minimum.
  • Bruno Caboclo‘s defensive versatility may be enough for the Grizzlies to bring him back for another year. Memphis doesn’t have another bench player with size who can guard the perimeter, making Caboclo valuable even with his limited offensive game. After a pair of 10-day contracts, the Grizzlies signed the former first-round pick for the rest of the season, along with some guaranteed money for 2019/20.
  • The trade deadline worked out poorly for rookie guard Jevon Carter, who has only played three minutes over the last three games. The Grizzlies kept Conley and traded for both Bradley and Wright, who are all ahead of him in the rotation. Carter may not get a chance to display his skills in Memphis as long as all three stay with the team.

Southwest Notes: Capela, Noah, Wright, Doncic

The Rockets are optimistic that injured center Clint Capela will be ready to return after the All-Star break, relays Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Capela, who missed his 15th straight game tonight, hasn’t played since Jan. 13 when he injured ligaments in his right thumb.

He has been working out for several weeks and will start practicing with the team after the break concludes. Capela is the Rockets’ top rebounder at 12.6 per game and ranks third in the league in field goal percentage at 63.1%.

“He’s doing everything without contact,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I guess those two practices will determine whether he will play the first game (after the break) or not.”

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Joakim Noah calls the opportunity to resume his career with the Grizzlies “a blessing” after a disastrous experience with the Knicks, tweets K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. Noah wasn’t always sure that he wanted to keep playing after becoming an outcast in New York, but he has been rejuvenated by a second chance in Memphis. “I didn’t want to leave the game like that,” he said. “I’ve worked too hard my whole life. I’ve always been somebody who loves basketball, loves to compete. I wanted to find that again.” (Twitter link)
  • The Grizzlies traded offense for defense at the backup point guard position in a pair of deals last week, writes David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Memphis sent Shelvin Mack to the Hawks and replaced him by picking up Delon Wright in a trade with the Raptors. Wright can’t match Mack’s outside shooting prowess, but he made the Pac 12 All-Defensive Team twice in college and has the size to guard several positions. The Grizzlies can make Wright a restricted free agent this summer by extending a a $3.64MM qualifying offer.
  • An online gambling site has stopped taking wagers on the Rookie of the Year race, figuring Mavericks guard Luka Doncic already has the award wrapped up, relays Joey Hayden of The Dallas Morning News. David Strauss of MyBookie said the site is ready to pay out more than $150K to bettors who put money on Doncic.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics Trades, Mudiay, Fultz, Noah

The Celtics are unlikely to make a big move prior to this year’s trade deadline, NBC Sports’ Tom Haberstroh reports in a story relayed by NBC Sports Boston’s Darren Hartwell. With Indiana losing Victor Oladipo for the season, the Celtics have less incentive to make a drastic change. They’re hoping Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown bounce back during the second half of the season, then will look to trade for Anthony Davis during the offseason.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks point guard Emmanuel Mudiay will be sidelined at least two weeks with a left shoulder strain, the team’s PR department tweets. Mudiay suffered the injury against Houston on Wednesday and the original prognosis was confirmed by an MRI. Mudiay is averaging 14.7 PPG and 3.9 APG.
  • Markelle Fultz traveled with the Sixers on their current road trip but the second-year guard has not been cleared for basketball activity, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets. It’s not anticipated that Fultz will be cleared during the trip and thus he’s limited to physical therapy as he works his way back from thoracic outlet syndrome.
  • Joakim Noah takes responsibility for flopping with the Knicks after signing a four-year, $72MM contract, as he told Frank Isola of The Athletic. Noah is playing for the Grizzlies after getting released by New York. “I think these are all life lessons. It was a tough time for me mentally,” he said. “Failing like that on a stage I really wanted to do well on. I take responsibility. It took me a while to digest that.”
  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic runs down a wide variety of trade scenarios for the Raptors, though they’re also unlikely to make a big move.

Southwest Notes: Mirotic, Gasol, Spurs, Jackson Jr.

Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic has regained his rhythm with the team, returning to the lineup this past week after missing 12 games with an ankle injury. He scored 26 combined points in his first two games back, draining a handful of threes as an off-ball threat.

“He was trying to get himself going early and I just kind of wanted to tell him to let it come to him,” Anthony Davis said of Mirotic following Wednesday’s win over Cleveland, according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate. “I think it was big for him to see his shot go in and from there he started making a bunch of shots.”

Mirotic wound up scoring 17 points against the Cavs, then scored nine points with a positive net rating against the Timberwolves on Saturday. He was acquired by the Pelicans in a trade last year, with the team bringing him on as a catch-and-shoot threat.

“AD said, ‘Take the first one. Don’t hesitate,’ ” Mirotic said. “So I said, ‘He’s right. If you have an open shot, take the open shot.’ Just play simple. That’s what I did. A couple of possessions after that, they went to double against AD and he passed it to me wide open, and I shot that corner in the second quarter. That was all. Playing simple.” 

The Pelicans are striving to make the postseason for the third time since drafting Davis. The team is reportedly active on the trade market, with the NBA’s annual deadline falling on February 7 this season.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies center Marc Gasol has denied that there’s any rift between him and teammate Joakim Noah, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. A video of Gasol brushing by Noah after the team’s win over the Spurs circulated on social media, with Gasol calling the insinuation “f——” unbelievable.” Noah also played with Marc’s brother, Pau Gasol, for two seasons in Chicago.
  • Patty Mills expects an emotional night when longtime Spurs guard Tony Parker returns to San Antonio on Monday, tweets Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News. Parker signed a free-agent contract with the Hornets last summer, leaving the Spurs after 17 seasons. “I think he is going to get a very, very warm welcome,” Mills said. “The city loves him. They always have, and vice versa. Looking forward to a pretty cool reception from the fans.”
  • Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff explains his development plan for Jaren Jackson Jr., as relayed by Cobb in a story for the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “There’s moments where it may look like we’re being tough on him,” Bickerstaff said. “But we have expectations of him being a franchise player, and your franchise player has to hold himself to those standards. And you only get one chance to coach him as a rookie.” Jackson Jr., the No. 4 pick in 2018, has averaged 13.4 points in 25.5 minutes per game this season, starting in 40 of 42 contests.

Mills: I Don’t Know I Would Have Signed Joakim Noah

With the Joakim Noah era in New York over, front office brass is not only thrilled the oft-injured center is gone but giving second thoughts to signing him, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Knicks president Steve Mills discussed the divorce from Noah and his take on the original four-year, $72MM given to the former All-Star in the summer of 2016.

“Obviously I’m disappointed it worked out the way it worked out,” Mills said. “I don’t know that, had it been just my decision, I don’t know that I would have signed him.”

Mills was the Knicks’ general manager and worked underneath then-president Phil Jackson when Noah was brought onboard. The 33-year-old battled injuries in his first season with New York, appearing in 46 games. Noah played just seven more games last season before being suspended following an altercation with former New York coach Jeff Hornacek.

In a recent interview, Noah admitted that he partied too much while a member of the Knicks and that he was “too lit” for New York. The Knicks used the stretch provision on the remainder of his contract and waived the veteran before the start of the season.

Noah joined the Grizzlies — who he called the perfect fit at this stage in his career — and through eight games, is averaging 4.9 PPG and 3.4 RPG for Memphis off the bench.

“There was a reason why we thought that this was the best thing for the culture and the environment of our team,” Mills said. “When the speculation was why don’t we handle Joakim one way and we decided to handle it a different way, there was a reason why we handled it the way we decided to handle it.”

Joakim Noah: “Too Lit To Play In New York”

Excessive partying may have been responsible for Joakim Noah‘s downfall in New York, the former Knicks center says in an interview with Chris Vernon of Grind City Media (hat tip to Chris Iseman of USA Today).

Noah has looked much better since signing with the Grizzlies last week, averaging 6.2 points and 3.8 rebounds through five games. While those are modest numbers, they are far better than what he posted during two frustrating years with the Knicks.

“I remember after the first game (in New York) I probably had like 60 people in my house,” Noah said. “I’m too lit to play in New York City. Memphis is perfect for me.”

Noah, 33, admits he had the same party habits earlier in his career, but added, “We were lit in Chicago, but I was young. You recover faster, you know?”

Noah was a two-time All-Star and former Defensive Player of the Year with the Bulls before receiving a four-year, $72MM offer to join the Knicks in 2016. He battled injuries in his first season with the team, appearing in 46 games, then played just seven more last year before being suspended following an altercation with former New York coach Jeff Hornacek in practice.

The Knicks waived Noah before the start of this season, using the stretch provision on the remainder of his contract.

“It happened so fast,” Noah recalled. “One year I’m playing 35 minutes a game. And then injuries started piling up. I got this crazy deal with the Knicks, and then the next thing you know I’m not playing anymore. Get kicked off the team. It was a crazy time. I wasn’t sure I was gonna get an opportunity to play again.”

Noah believes he was able to save his career by leaving New York after being released and heading to California to dedicate himself to getting back into game shape. If he can rediscover the all-around skills he displayed in Chicago, Noah could be a valuable backup for the Grizzlies as they fight for a playoff spot.

“I got the call from Memphis. … I decided that this was a good fit,” Noah said. “I’m just really, really happy to be here.”

Southwest Notes: Mavericks, Conley, White

In what is a surprise to many, the Mavericks are the current kings of Texas, having jumped out to a strong 13-11 start. As Brad Townsend writes for SportsDay Dallas, the additions of Luka Doncic and DeAndre Jordan have helped boost the Mavericks from the lottery to the playoff picture.

Doncic has been sensational as a rookie, averaging 18.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while hitting several clutch shots down the stretch of games. Jordan has improved the Mavericks’ rebounding and has provided an interior presence that the team has lacked in recent years.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks’ bench has been very successful, as J.J. Barea and Dwight Powell have played well in their specified roles. With Rick Carlisle at the helm, the Mavericks appear to be a very competitive team this season that has a good chance of sneaking into the playoffs.

There’s more from the Southwest division:

  • Mike Conley is struggling with a dislocated finger, which hampered his play against the Lakers last week. As David Cobb reveals for Commercial Appeal, Conley had trouble holding the ball, which obviously isn’t a good thing for the Grizzlies‘ leading guard. Conley believes the swelling and discomfort will improve in the coming days.
  • Derrick White continues to work on regaining his confidence and comfort after coming back from injury earlier this season. Jabari Young of The Athletic details the support that White has received from the Spurs‘ coaching staff and some of his teammates as he looks to make his mark in the Spurs’ depleted backcourt.
  • A recent Southwest notes post detailed Dirk Nowitzki‘s upcoming return to action, how the addition of Joakim Noah impacts other bigs on the Grizzlies roster and much more.

Southwest Rumors: Nowitzki, Noah, Gordon, Anthony

Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki will not make his season debut Saturday against the Rockets but he is inching closer to his return, Dwain Price of the team’s website reports. Nowitzki, who underwent ankle surgery during the spring and suffered a setback in September, participated in practice on Friday. “He’s doing well. You see him down there. He’s playing 3-on-3 and getting better all the time,” said coach Rick Carlisle, who assured the media he won’t play this weekend.

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • The addition of Joakim Noah has impacted several other Grizzlies players, as Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian notes in his latest mailbag. JaMychal Green, who becomes an unrestricted free agent, might be shopped if the franchise decides it won’t try to re-sign him. It also clouds the future of Ivan Rabb, a second-round pick in 2017, within the organization. Rabb has thrived in the G League but isn’t skilled enough or physical enough at the NBA level, Herrington opines. Noah’s presence should also reduce Marc Gasol‘s workload, Herrington adds.
  • Rockets guard Eric Gordon admits this season has been a shock to the system for him and his teammates, as he told Kelly Iko of The Athletic. He also insinuated that coach Mike D’Antoni has made some mistakes with his personnel. “I’m just not having fun man,” Gordon said. “I’m just not. This (stinks). Even the times where I have good games. We’re just not using some guys the right way. Are we gonna make the right sacrifices? Do we have the right attitude? Last year was the best year I’ve ever had being a part of a team. We just never had a bad moment.”
  • Rockets GM Daryl Morey blames himself for the Carmelo Anthony signing. Morey made the remarks during a Tom Haberstroh podcast (hat tip to Sportando). “It really is mostly on me, honestly,” Morey said. “I saw the fit there and really didn’t go the way I thought it would. He can still really help a team.”

Grizzlies Notes: Noah, Conley, Future

While Joakim Noah showed some rust in his first game for the Grizzlies on Wednesday night, he held his own and brought some energy to the court, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Athletic. Noah also played a little more than may have been expected, earning 13 minutes of action his debut, an indication that Memphis plans to make him a regular part of its rotation going forward.

For his part, the veteran center says he’s looking forward to helping his new team in any way he can and believes he can fit right in with the Grizzlies’ grit ‘n’ grind mentality.

“There’s a lot of really good young talent, and it’s a culture that has been known for its work ethic and its grind. And I pride myself on being one of those guys,” Noah said, per David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “So I just want to keep that culture going.”

Regarding Noah’s time in New York, Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said he has “no questions” about the way things ended between Noah and the Knicks, as Cobb relays for The Memphis Commercial Appeal. According to Sankofa, Noah said this week that he has “nothing bad to say” about the Knicks and is focused on contributing in Memphis.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian confirms (via Twitter) that Noah’s new one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Grizzlies is fully guaranteed.
  • In a conversation with Michael Lee of The Athletic, longtime Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley talked about transitioning to a new stage of his career and his desire to finally make his first All-Star team. “I look for respect and to try to earn the respect of a lot of people,” Conley said. “If you make the All-Star team and you get the label next your name, for whatever reason, people will think, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s good now.’ But if you don’t have it, it’s, ‘Well, he’s never made it, he’s never done anything, so why would you think he’s any better than this guy or the next guy.’ It kind of keeps me under this glass ceiling that I’m trying to bust through.”
  • The Grizzlies are one of five teams that Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports believes should consider “blowing it up” sooner rather than later. Despite Memphis’ solid start to the season, Smith suggests that the team doesn’t currently have championship upside, and should consider targeting more young talent to complement building blocks like rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. and second-year forward Dillon Brooks.