Kyle Anderson

Grizzlies Notes: Cho, Valanciunas, Anderson, Assistants

After being let go by Charlotte in 2018, former Hornets GM Rich Cho had been consulting work for the Grizzlies, so it made sense that new Memphis executive VP of basketball operations and former Hornets intern Zach Kleiman contacted him right away last week when a permanent, high-level position opened up in the team’s front office.

“Yeah, he reached out to me pretty quickly,” Cho said, per Peter Edmiston of The Athletic. “Zach did a really good job for us in Charlotte as an intern, he’s a really bright guy and he’s passionate about the game. He’s an extremely hard worker. I’ve watched his career progress from afar and I’m really happy the way things have gone for him, especially that he’s getting this opportunity.”

As for his new role in Memphis, Cho said that he’ll be overseeing the team’s analytics department and all of the salary cap administration. He’ll also be advising the rest of the management group on player personnel issues and acquisitions, as Edminston details. Kleiman will be running the show for the Grizzlies, so Cho is ready to do what he can to assist the 30-year-old executive.

“On a 30,000-foot level, I’ll be helping Zach out wherever he needs help, and advising him accordingly,” Cho said. “As the GM, he’s going to have to wear a lot of hats and be involved in everything, and I’m going to try to help him out wherever I can.”

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Of players who appeared in at least 10 games in March, Jonas Valanciunas has the league’s 16th-highest usage rate, and averaged 10 more minutes per game than he had been playing in Toronto, writes David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. As Cobb notes, Valanciunas was very happy with his increased role in Memphis, which could have an impact on his contract decision this summer — the big man has until June 13 to decide whether or not to pick up a $17.62MM player option.
  • As expected, Grizzlies forward Kyle Anderson underwent thoracic outlet decompression surgery on his injured right shoulder on Wednesday, the team announced in a press release. According to the Grizzlies, Anderson is expected to make a full recovery and resume full basketball activities before the club opens camp in the fall.
  • The Grizzlies have now lost a pair of assistant coaches to Vanderbilt. After leaving Memphis to become Vanderbilt’s new head coach, Jerry Stackhouse has brought fellow assistant Adam Mazarei to his staff, the school confirmed today in a press release. Grizzlies assistant Chad Forcier also announced earlier this week that he’s moving on, as J.B. Bickerstaff‘s staff disperses in various directions in advance of a new coach being hired.

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.”

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.

Injury Updates: Zion, Anderson, Embiid, Kuzma

Duke star Zion Williamson appears unlikely to play in Saturday’s showdown vs. North Carolina, but fans hoping to watch Williamson during March Madness shouldn’t be worried. In fact, head coach Mike Krzyzewski believes Williamson could return before the NCAA Tournament, dismissing speculation that the forward might shut it down for the season after his recent knee injury.

“He’s getting more confidence, and we just have to get him in shape,” Krzyzewski said, per David M. Hale of ESPN.com. “I don’t think he’ll be ready for [UNC] … but I would be surprised if he wasn’t ready by the ACC tournament.”

As we wait to get another look at the player who will be selected first overall in 2019’s draft, here are a few more injury updates on guys who are already in the NBA:

  • Grizzlies forward Kyle Anderson will receive an anesthetic injection in the hopes of alleviating soreness in his right shoulder, the team announced in a press release. Anderson, who hasn’t played since January 30, will be re-evaluated in about two weeks.
  • Joel Embiid still isn’t quite ready to return to action for the Sixers. As Martin Frank of The Delaware News Journal relays, head coach Brett Brown is still hoping that Embiid will play this week, but the star center didn’t travel to Chicago for Wednesday’s game. “I believe there’s a chance that he may meet us in Houston (where the Sixers play on Friday),” Brown said of Embiid.
  • A precautionary MRI for Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma confirmed that he’s dealing with a minor ankle sprain, according to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, who tweets that Kuzma could be sidelined for up to a week.

Kyle Anderson Out 2-to-4 Weeks With Ankle Sprain

The Grizzlies have revealed that Kyle Anderson will miss at least 2-to-4 weeks with a grade two left ankle sprain. The team’s PR department sent out a tweet detailing the injury and timetable.

Anderson was one of the main free agency additions for the Grizzlies and had started 38 of the team’s 41 games this season while playing nearly 30 minutes per contest. Anderson joined Memphis as a restricted free agent during the 2018 offseason when the Spurs decided not to match the Grizzlies’ four-year, $37.2MM offer sheet.

Anderson has averaged 7.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game this season. The Grizzlies have struggled in recent weeks, having fallen out of the playoff picture and down toward the bottom of the Western Conference.

Southwest Notes: Anderson, Green, Knight, Hill

Returning to San Antonio on Wednesday for the first time since signing a four-year offer sheet with the Grizzlies during the offseason, Kyle Anderson downplayed the significance of the matchup, suggesting it would be just another game, writes David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. However, as Cobb details, Anderson’s teammates weren’t buying that.

“He really wanted this one,” Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley said. “He told me before coming in here, he said, ‘Man, go off for me so we can get this win.’ You could tell it meant a whole lot to him. We were really just playing for one another, and it showed down the stretch.”

Before the Grizzlies’ win over the Spurs, Anderson expressed appreciation for how head coach Gregg Popovich and GM R.C. Buford handled his departure from San Antonio, admitting that he wasn’t sure when he signed his offer sheet whether it’d be matched. Popovich praised Anderson this week, but said that Memphis’ offer sheet was “beyond the pale for us,” according to Cobb.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • In a separate story for The Commercial Appeal, Cobb examines how the recent return of JaMychal Green to the Grizzlies‘ rotation affects the team. Green, who is in a contract year, hasn’t reclaimed his starting spot from rookie Jaren Jackson Jr., but he’s been solid off the bench in his first three games back, all Memphis wins.
  • The Rockets have been very cautious with Brandon Knight as he returns from last year’s ACL tear, according to Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic, who hears from a source that the veteran guard could be ready to play at some point in December. While we haven’t seen Knight in action since the 2016/17 season, Houston views him as a player who could help back up Chris Paul and James Harden, says Bijani.
  • Solomon Hill is one of the Pelicans‘ highest-paid players, but he isn’t seeing many minutes this season for the club, despite being healthy. Scott Kushner of The Advocate explores Hill’s role in New Orleans – or lack thereof – and what’s in store for him going forward.

Southwest Notes: Davis, Pelicans, Anderson, Mavericks

Jimmy Butler may be the next star to be traded, but Anthony Davis won’t be joining him, according to Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Appearing on a podcast with Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports, Bontemps said there’s a “zero percent chance” the Pelicans will part with Davis this season [hat tip to Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype).

Next summer, Davis will be eligible for a five-year supermax contract that could become the richest deal in NBA history, Bontemps explains. It’s possible that a trade involving Davis could happen in a few years if he decides he’s not happy in New Orleans or doesn’t view the team as a contender, but Bontemps said he won’t go anywhere until he has that contract in hand.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • This Pelicans‘ roster turnover this summer may present the biggest challenges on defense, writes Scott Kushner of The Advocate. New Orleans got noticed for its fast pace last season, but one of the overlooked factors in its success was team defense, which was fourth best in the league after February 1 at 103.4 points per 100 possessions. Davis and Jrue Holiday were first-team All-Defense honorees, but newcomers Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton, who both had negative defensive efficiency numbers last season, have to prove that they contribute at that end of the court.
  • The decision to gamble on former Spurs forward Kyle Anderson may help decide Chris Wallace’s future as GM of the Grizzlies, suggests Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Huge contracts for Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons were already straining the team’s cap when Wallace decided to extend a four-year, $37.2MM offer sheet to Anderson. San Antonio elected not to match, so Anderson will be in Memphis’ training camp next week as its top free agent addition of the summer. It’s a huge risk based on Anderson’s career numbers, which included a career-high 7.9 PPG and 5.4 RPG last season. Giannotto states that the Grizzlies should look to replace Wallace if it doesn’t work out.
  • Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News takes a look at some of the key figures in the Mavericks‘ workplace misconduct case, which resulted in a settlement that was announced today.

Grizzlies’ Bickerstaff Talks Upcoming Season

Earlier this week, the Memphis Business Council hosted an event known as the “The Game Plan of Memphis Basketball.” A special guest of the event was Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. And as Mark Giannotto of The Commercial Appeal relays, there were plenty of questions to be answered by the Grizzlies’ head man, as noted below.

What is the team’s strength this season?

“IQ and intelligence… We got a bunch of guys that know how to think the game and if you can think the game, you can make up for some of the things that we lack. If you look at our team, and I hope this doesn’t offend any of our guys, we’re not the fastest of teams. But we have to be able to use our brains to put us in spots so that we can defend well and score the ball because we’re always one or two steps ahead of our opponent.”

What were the highlights of the team’s offseason?

“We’re going to be a completely different team than you guys saw at the end of last season. Our front office and ownership group have done a great job bringing in different players with different skill sets that kind of fit the theme and the direction that we’re heading in. We’re not as young as we used to be. We’ve brought in some proven, veteran guys like Kyle Anderson, Garrett Temple, Shelvin Mack, those type of guys, who can accentuate what Marc (Gasol) can do.”

How will the team look on the court?

“We’ve been preaching playing a unique style of basketball. Obviously, not reinventing the wheel but playing a game where size, physicality and toughness prevails. I think we’re fortunate that we have some big guys, some long guys, that are very skilled as well, so that they can do both… So we’re fortunate to have guys that can do those things, so that’s where we’re headed. Our guys are excited about it in the conversations we’ve had with them and I think we’re built for it.”

What is Kyle Anderson‘s role?

“He’ll be used at his strengths, which is versatility. He can play multiple positions. He can impact the game on both sides of the floor. I’ve been impressed, just going back and watching him and seeing him, is just how smart he is and how easily he thinks the game. Very rarely do you find him in the wrong spot, offensively or defensively, and he’s always doing something to help his teammates. I think guys like that are invaluable and his ability to play one through four, you can throw him on the floor at any position.”

Will Mike Conley be healthy for training camp?

“There’s no doubt about it. Mike’s been playing pick up, those types of things. Chandler (Parsons has) been playing pick up … For the first time in a long time, we’re looking at walking into training camp with healthy bodies and healthy, high caliber players. Not just guys who would be your 13th or 14th man. We’ve got our studs healthy, which we’re looking forward to.”

What are your hopes for Chandler Parsons?

“Just that he plays games. I think the hardest thing for him is battling with the injuries, and being in and being out, and then trying to catch a rhythm. The more games he plays, he’s proven, even last year in a short amount of time, when he played games in a row, he proved that he could be an effective player and he’s a talented basketball player. We just got to make sure he’s on the floor.”

Why will the bench be better this season?

“The key in all of this is having some experience when you’re trying to win like we’re trying to do. So having guys that have proven they can play in this league, they’re not second guessing themselves, and every single night, from a coaching standpoint, you know what you’re going to get out of guys, is huge… Not to take anything away from our young guys that were here with us last year, they were competing. They were giving it everything they had. They worked hard at it. But again, when you’re young, there’s always those ups and downs and you’re battling that inconsistency.”

Southwest Notes: Capela, Anderson, Harden, Mejri

Clint Capela‘s five-year contract with the Rockets includes $1.5MM in yearly incentives that he’s likely to reach and another $500K in yearly incentives he’s unlikely to attain, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports.

As previously noted, Capela’s $90MM is technically guaranteed for $80MM with $10MM in incentives. He’ll receive $1MM annually if he plays 2,000 minutes or if the Rockets make the Western Conference Finals. He also has a $500K annual incentive for reaching 2,000 minutes played and a defensive rebound percent greater than 30 percent. Pincus considers those incentives well within reach. As a point of reference, Capela logged 2,034 minutes in 74 regular-season games last season with a defensive rebounding percentage of 30.8.

He also has a $500K annual incentive for taking at least 150 free throws and making 65% or more, which Pincus considers unlikely. Capela shot a career-high 56% from the line last season.

If he reaches the likely incentives, the cap hits on Capela’s contract will be $15.3MM, $16.4MM, $17.5MM, $18.6MM and $19.7MM (Twitter links).

We have more from around the Southwest Division:

  • The Grizzlies lost some scoring punch with the departure of Tyreke Evans but they’ll gain two-way versatility and playmaking efficiency from Kyle Anderson, according to Grizzlies website reporter Michael Wallace. Anderson will start at small forward but he can help Memphis at as many as four positions, Wallace continues. Anderson ranked sixth among qualifying NBA players in defensive rating last season, Wallace adds. Anderson was acquired in free agency when the Spurs declined to match a four-year, $37.2MM offer sheet.
  • Rockets star and league MVP James Harden is under investigation by Scottdale, Ariz. police over a nightclub incident, BrieAnna J Frank of the Arizona Republic reports. According to a TMZ report that Frank relayed, a woman was recording a scuffle involving someone in Harden’s entourage. Harden then alleged grabbed the woman’s phone and threw it onto a roof so she couldn’t sell the video footage.
  • Salah Mejri is once again looking at defensive-oriented reserve role with the Mavericks, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. The 32-year-old Mejri will back up DeAndre Jordan, though Dirk Nowitzki will also cut into Mejri’s minutes when he gets shifted to center. Mejri signed a one-year veteran’s minimum contract earlier this month.

Grizzlies In Limbo Between Contention And Rebuild

The Grizzlies are an interesting franchise to keep an eye on moving forward this season and beyond, as they are somewhat in a state of limbo – not quite rebuilding but not close to being a serious contender either – writes Mark Giannotto of The Commercial Appeal.

To be sure, Memphis had a relatively nice offseason. They drafted a potential future franchise cornerstone in Jaren Jackson, they signed Kyle Anderson to the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception, and traded for veteran guard Garrett Temple. By midseason, all three could possibly join Mike Conley and Marc Gasol in the Grizzlies’ starting lineup.

Yet, as Conley says, because of the new pieces learning to fit in and difficulty of the Western Conference, it may turn out to be an “awkward” year in Memphis.

“This season, expectations are still try to be that playoff team, that team that comes out and really makes it tough on everybody. But it is an awkward year with so many teams getting so much better [with] different acquisitions they made in the offseason.”

In addition to adding Jackson, Anderson, and Temple, the Grizzlies also traded away relative disappointments Ben McLemore, Deyonta Davis and Jarell Martin, while adding rookie Jevon Carter, a potential throwback-type player to the Grit ‘N’ Grind era.

Ultimately, it’s probably still going to be difficult for Memphis to make the playoffs in the West, even assuming a 22-win improvement from last year that would see Memphis literally double the amount of victories from a season ago. As such, a rebuild is probably closer to fruition than title contention.

As Giannotto notes, only seven players (not including Gasol’s player option) are signed beyond this season, and only rookie Dillon Brooks had a meaningful role on last year’s team. Accordingly, one would think that most teams would begin rebuilding this season. Only time will tell if the Grizzlies choosing to do otherwise was the right call.