Grizzlies Rumors

And-Ones: Sabonis, Valanciunas, N. Robinson, Offseason

Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis and Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas are expected to join the Lithuanian National Team for the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 qualifiers next month, according to Donatas Urbonas (Twitter link). Lithuania is scheduled to play qualifying games in Vilnius against Denmark on November 26 and Belgium on November 29, and the country’s basketball federation has confirmed that Sabonis and Valanciunas are part of the team’s preliminary squad.

Unfortunately for Lithuania, it’s not clear yet whether Sabonis and Valanciunas will be available next summer for the all-important Olympic qualifying tournament that begins on June 29. Lithuania will be vying for one of four final spots in the Tokyo Olympics, and typically NBA players would be free to join their national teams by that point. In 2021, however, it’s possible the NBA’s regular season won’t yet have finished by the end of June.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran guard Nate Robinson hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2015/16 season and his odds of making a comeback at this point are incredibly long. However, he hasn’t given up on the idea, as Eric Woodyard of ESPN relays (via Twitter). Even at 36, I could still play and still ball out, still be a good spark off the bench,” Robinson said. “But times have changed, the NBA has changed so much. Naw, I will never say I’m retired. They retired me. I didn’t retire.”
  • Several ESPN reporters and analysts discussed a series of NBA offseason issues, including the most intriguing player on the free agent market, the trade candidate most worth watching, and the team worth keeping an eye on. Fred VanVleet, Jrue Holiday, and the Warriors, respectively, received the most votes in those three categories.
  • In the second part of their survey of NBA agents, Ben Standig and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic solicited opinions on the league’s best player, how many games the NBA will be able to play in 2020/21, and when the season will start, among other topics. We recapped the first part of the agent survey on Wednesday.
  • Several beat writers from The Athletic conducted a new mock draft for the top 10 picks this week. The exercise saw LaMelo Ball go No. 1 to the Timberwolves and included a trade involving the Knicks‘ No. 8 pick and the Suns‘ No. 10 selection, with Phoenix trading up for Tyrese Haliburton.

Lakers Had Largest Financial Loss From Hiatus

All 30 NBA teams suffered financially from the shutdown, but the Lakers were impacted more than anyone, writes Bill Shea of The Athletic. Figures released by Team Marketing Report, a Chicago-based sports business intelligence firm, show the league lost $694MM from the cancellation of 258 regular-season games.

The Lakers missed out on revenue from 10 home games, tied for the most in the league, which cost the franchise an estimated $52.7MM. Rounding out the top five were the Knicks at $45MM, the Warriors at $42.5MM, the Rockets at $35MM and the Celtics at $31.5MM. Teams losing the least tended to be in smaller markets, led by the Grizzlies at $10.4MM, the Hornets and Timberwolves at $11.7MM each and the Cavaliers and Suns at $11.8MM each.

TMR arrived at the figures by using a weighted formula that considers Fan Cost Index, premium vs. regular ticket prices and attendance. The Fan Cost Index estimates how much it costs a family of four to attend a game. The NBA average for this season is $430, up about $9 from a year ago. Golden State created the most income from fans this year at $6MM per game, with the Lakers just behind at $5.6MM and the Knicks at $5.2MM. The Hornets were last, generating just $1.1MM per home game.

Although the NBA brings in $2.6 billion annually through its national television deals and billions more in corporate advertising, the league still depends heavily on fans coming to games. Commissioner Adam Silver has estimated that attendance is responsible for about 40% of revenue, which is why TMR owner and publisher Chris Hartweg believes teams will aggressively offer promotions to bring the public back when it becomes safe to fill arenas again.

“Something that jumps out as we’ve gone through these gross game day fan revenue exercises is that fan attendance is still critical to teams, even with billion-dollar media deals to cushion the blow,” Hartweg said. “If you take the NBA numbers and project across a full 41-home game season, the average NBA team hit becomes more than $110 million each. Leaguewide, we’re talking $3.3 billion. Our MLB projection was $173 million per team or $5.5 billion total for their 81 lost games.

“Those dollars are a huge incentive for teams and venues to make their facilities as safe as possible for fans to return as soon as possible. And in fans’ favor, we anticipate teams creating very fan-centric deals and offerings to welcome fans back.”

Community Shootaround: Western Conference Odds For 2020/21

After winning the NBA Finals in 2020, the Lakers are currently listed by sportsbooks as the odds-on frontrunners to do so again in 2021.

Over at, oddsmakers have listed the Lakers as +275 favorites to come out of the Western Conference in 2020/21. That means if you place a $100 bet on the Lakers and they win the West next season, you’ll win $275.

While the Lakers are the current favorites, places two other Western Conference teams in roughly the same tier. The Clippers (+375) have the second-best odds to win the conference, while the Warriors (+400) have the third-best odds.

Golden State’s placement is an interesting one. We can safely assume that the Warriors will be much improved in 2020/21 with a healthy Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson back in their lineup, and they have the resources necessary to make further roster upgrades. Still, the club is coming off a dismal 15-50 season that saw them finish in last place in the NBA. Winning the West in 2021 would represent a historic turnaround.

The rest of the odds to win the West next year are as follows, per

  • Nuggets: +1200
  • Rockets: +1200
  • Mavericks: +1400
  • Trail Blazers: +1800
  • Jazz: +2500
  • Pelicans: +2500
  • Suns: +3300
  • Thunder: +4000
  • Grizzlies: +5000
  • Kings: +12500
  • Spurs: +12500
  • Timberwolves: +12500

As we acknowledged on Tuesday when we asked you for your thoughts on the Eastern Conference odds for 2020/21, it’s way too early to confidently predict next year’s conference champions. Rosters will undergo significant changes in the coming months in the draft and free agency, and on the trade market.

Still, the anticipated offseason directions for certain teams is baked into BetOnline’s odds. The Thunder would certainly be higher on the above list if the possibility of a rebuild wasn’t hanging over the franchise.

So, with the caveat that plenty could change in the coming months to alter the outlook of the West for the 2020/21 season, we want to get your thoughts on the early projections from oddsmakers.

Should the Lakers be considered the favorites to come out of the West again in 2021? Are the Warriors or another team being overvalued? Are there other clubs being undervalued? Which team do you like to come out of the West next season? And which club do you view as the best value pick based on the odds listed above?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your early forecast for the Western Conference in 2020/21!

Southwest Notes: Louzada, Burke, Rockets, Crowder

The Sydney Kings of Australia’s NBL announced Wednesday that Pelicans’ 2019 second-round pick Didi Louzada will be returning for his second season (Twitter link). The Brazilian wing player had confirmed the news of him coming back to Sydney a couple of hours earlier (Twitter link).

Last season as a rookie, the 21-year-old Louzada averaged 11.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 1.7 APG for Sydney. The NBL’s 2020-21 season is scheduled to begin in December and will wrap up in April.

Matt Logue of The Telegraph reported that Louzada can make his NBA debut at any time as the Pelicans own his draft rights. As things stand, there’s not a set date on when the 2020/21 NBA regular season will begin.

Here’s more from across the Southwest Division:

  • Before he joined the Mavericks in the bubble this summer, Trey Burke battled COVID-19, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas News. The veteran guard discussed his trials and tribulations with the virus, including being quarantined for weeks in a Dallas hotel. “At this point, it was like 21, 22 days,” Burke said. “I was really concerned at that point because I was thinking my career was in jeopardy. I needed an opportunity before the bubble, and Dallas, a team I’m familiar with, calls me, and I can’t get to the bubble because of coronavirus.” The former first-round pick was eventually cleared to join Dallas in Orlando after his 25th day of quarantine.
  • With Mike D’Antoni not returning next season, the Rockets are beginning their search for a new head coach, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Wojnarowski reported on Wednesday that Houston has received permission to interview Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr. and Mavericks assistant coach Stephen Silas. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle initially reported the Rockets’ interest in both assistant coaches, along with five other head coaching candidates.
  • At NBA Finals Media Day on Tuesday, Heat forward Jae Crowder spoke about his brief time with the Grizzlies this season, writes Mark Giannotto of Commercial Appeal. The veteran forward explained how he had to take on more of a leadership role for the young Grizzlies’ team. “Being in Memphis, I took on a different role. I took on a role I’d never taken on before in an NBA locker room,” he said. “And that’s just being a main leader, being a main vocal point, being the main guy who the young guys can lean on.” Crowder was acquired by Miami in a multi-player trade at February’s trade deadline.

Pacific Notes: Howard, Nnaji, Bjelica, Hield

Veteran center Dwight Howard, who will be back on the free agent market after the Finals, is thankful the Lakers took a chance on him, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. Howard was moved into the starting lineup during the conference finals. “It’s been the hardest road to get back here. I’m very grateful,” he said. “I’ve never given up on myself.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Power forward prospects Zeke Nnaji and Jalen Smith have interviewed the Suns, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Nnaji, who played at Arizona, is ranked No. 35 overall by ESPN, while Maryland’s Smith is considered first-round material at No. 20. The Suns currently own just one pick in the draft, the No. 10 overall selection.
  • The Kings’ decision on whether to retain forward Nemanja Bjelica could hinge on how much new GM Monte McNair values Marvin Bagley III, as well as the team’s financial constraints, Jason Jones of The Athletic writes. The Kings hold a $7.15MM option on Bjelica’s contract next season but re-signing Bogdan Bogdanovic is an even bigger priority, Jones continues. If Sacramento drafts another power forward, the team may find Bjelica expendable, Jones adds.
  • The Knicks, Sixers, Grizzlies and Hornets are some of the teams that might be willing to absorb Buddy Hield‘s four-year, $106MM extension and make a deal for the Kings‘ shooting guard, Frank Urbina of HoopsHype speculates. All four of those teams could benefit from the outside shooting of Hield, who had a somewhat disappointing season after signing his extension, which kicks in next season.

2020 NBA Offseason Preview: Memphis Grizzlies

Hoops Rumors is previewing the 2020 offseason for all 30 NBA teams. We’re looking at the key questions facing each club, as well as the roster decisions they’ll have to make this fall. Today, we’re focusing on the Memphis Grizzlies.

Salary Cap Outlook

Though they were initially projected to have some cap room this offseason, the Grizzlies all but eliminated that possibility at the trade deadline when they moved three players on expiring contracts – Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, and Solomon Hill – in exchange for three – Justise Winslow, Gorgui Dieng, and Dion Waiters – who have eight-figure salaries for 2020/21.

As a result, the Grizzlies have more than $112MM in guaranteed money on their books for ’20/21, so they’ll operate as an over-the-cap team. They won’t have the bi-annual exception available after using it this past season, but they should be able to utilize the full mid-level exception ($9.26MM) if they so choose.

Our full salary cap preview for the Grizzlies can be found right here.

Roster Decisions To Watch


Non-Guaranteed Contracts:

  • None

Two-Way Contracts:

Free Agents:

2020 Draft Assets

First Round:

  • None

Second Round:

  • No. 40 overall pick

The Grizzlies finally conveyed the first-round pick they owed to Boston as a result of a 2015 Jeff Green trade. It was protected multiple times and would have been protected again in 2020 if it had landed in the top six, but it came in at No. 14.

Memphis traded its own second-round pick (No. 44) to Chicago but acquired the Suns’ second-rounder (No. 40) in last July’s De’Anthony Melton/Jevon Carter swap.

Three Key Offseason Questions

1. What role do the Grizzlies envision for Justise Winslow?

The Grizzlies got a head-start on their offseason at the 2020 trade deadline when they acquired Winslow in a three-team, seven-player trade with Miami and Minnesota.

Because the Grizzlies had to take on two pricey multiyear contracts in addition to Winslow’s as part of that deal, it eliminated any chance they had of creating cap room this fall, changing the look of the coming offseason.

The organization’s willingness to give up its 2020 cap room by taking on a pair of unwanted contracts signals its fondness for Winslow, who missed most of the 2019/20 campaign due to back and hip issues. While his injury history isn’t particularly encouraging, the former 10th overall pick is still just 24 years old, and the comments out of Memphis following February’s trade suggest the team views him as a foundational piece.

With Winslow on track to return for the start of the ’20/21 season, the Grizzlies will have to come up with a plan for how they want to use him. Some of his best games as a pro came when the Heat moved him into more of a ball-handling role, making him their de facto point guard.

Winslow isn’t going to become the primary ball-handler for a Grizzlies team that features Ja Morant, but does the team view him as someone who could run the second unit? Or will Memphis prefer to keep him on the wing, in what would be his more traditional position? Answering those questions will help determine how the Grizzlies approach the offseason and fill out their bench.

2. Will the Grizzlies re-sign De’Anthony Melton and/or Josh Jackson?

The Grizzlies don’t have any core players hitting the free agent market this fall, but Melton emerged as a solid contributor off the bench and Jackson showed a little upside after eventually being promoted from the G League. Since Melton is a combo guard and Jackson spent most of his time at small forward, Winslow’s role could dictate how aggressive Memphis is in attempting to re-sign either player.

Melton should be the first priority. He’s a talented perimeter defender who had the best net rating (+5.1) of any of the Grizzlies’ full-season rotation players. At age 22, with just two years of experience under his belt, he has plenty of room to improve, and Memphis will have the ability to match any reasonable offer for him, since he’ll be a restricted free agent.

ESPN’s Bobby Marks projects a three-year contract in the $18MM range for Melton, which I think would be a good deal for the Grizzlies — he’d be movable at that price if the team decides in a year or two that he’s not part of the long-term plan.

If his cost exceeds that figure, Memphis will have to be careful. In Morant, Tyus Jones, and possibly Winslow, the team already has several ball-handlers, and Melton isn’t a strong enough shooter to effectively space the floor when he’s playing off the ball, so investing too heavily in him based on his defensive abilities would come with some risk.

As for Jackson, he made positive strides over the course of the season with the Memphis Hustle and later with the Grizzlies, but he still wasn’t close to delivering on the potential that made him the No. 4 pick in the 2017 draft. While Memphis would probably welcome the chance to continue his development on a minimum-salary contract, I’d be surprised if the team went much higher than that to retain him.

3. Will the Grizzlies be active on the trade market again?

Executive VP Zach Kleiman and the Grizzlies’ new-look front office made some of the most impressive and creative trades of the 2020 offseason. They cashed in their Mike Conley stock, moved up in the draft to select Brandon Clarke, acquired a lightly-protected future first-round pick from the Warriors for helping them move Andre Iguodala, and turned Chandler Parsons‘ oversized expiring contract into two expiring deals that could be moved more easily.

While I didn’t like the Grizzlies’ deadline acquisition of Winslow quite as much, the team did well to flip Iguodala – and Jae Crowder‘s expiring deal – for a potentially valuable asset after getting a first-rounder for taking him on just seven months earlier.

With no cap room available this fall, it may be a quiet offseason in Memphis, especially compared to Kleiman’s first summer running the show. However, if the Grizzlies do make any sort of splash, it’s likely to happen on the trade market rather than in free agency.

Without control of their own 2020 first-round pick, the Grizzlies’ assets are somewhat limited, but Gorgui Dieng‘s $17MM expiring contract could help grease the wheels if the team has any targets any mind. And once the draft is over, any of Memphis’ future first-round picks – including the future Utah first-rounder the team controls – would be movable.

I don’t expect the Grizzlies do anything drastic on the trade market this fall, but Kleiman has shown a willingness to be active, so the possibility can’t be ruled out.

Information from Basketball Insiders and ESPN was used in the creation of this post. Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ja Morant, Kendrick Nunn Headline All-Rookie Team

Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, who previously won the Rookie of the Year award, was the only player unanimously selected to this year’s All-Rookie First Team, the league announced in a press release.  A panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters selected the team.

Heat guard Kendrick Nunn collected the second-most First Team votes (98) and total points (197). Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke, Pelicans forward and top overall draft pick Zion Williamson, and Warriors forward Eric Paschall rounded out the First Team.

Morant and Clarke became the first Grizzlies duo named to the All-Rookie First Team since the 2001/02 season, when Pau Gasol and Shane Battier earned the honor. Nunn is the first Heat player named to the First Team since Michael Beasley in 2008/09.

Heat guard Tyler Herro, Raptors guard Terence Davis II, Bulls guard Coby White, Hornets forward P.J. Washington, and Wizards forward Rui Hachimura gained All-Rookie Second Team honors.

Knicks wing and third overall pick RJ Barrett finished 13 points behind Hachimura for the final spot on the Second Team, with Sixers forward Matisse Thybulle narrowly missing a spot as well.

The voting was conducted based on regular-season games played prior to the restart.

Darko Rajakovic Joins Grizzlies’ Coaching Staff

The Grizzlies have added former Suns assistant Darko Rajakovic to Taylor Jenkins’ coaching staff, according to Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. It’s the second hire in three days for Memphis, which welcomed Sonia Raman on Friday.

Rajakovic, 41, spent one season in Phoenix after joining new coach Monty Williams’ staff last summer. He served as an assistant with the Thunder from 2014-19 and coached Oklahoma’s G League affiliate from 2012-14. Rajakovic will replace Neven Spahija, who has accepted an overseas coaching job.

“I’m very excited to join Taylor’s staff and the Grizzlies organization,” Rajakovic said in a prepared statement. “This is a unique opportunity to meaningfully contribute to the growth of a highly competitive and sustainable program in Memphis.”

Rajakovic was as an assistant on the Serbian national team during last year’s FIBA World Cup. He has built a reputation for developing players, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, which makes him a perfect addition with all the young talent in Memphis.

“We are all so excited to be welcoming Darko to the Memphis Grizzlies,” Jenkins said. “He has shown a passion, drive, high basketball IQ, and love for teaching the game of basketball at a high level both internationally and in the NBA. His addition to our great coaching staff will continue to help enhance the development of our players, staff and team for the future.”

Grizzlies Hire Sonia Raman As Assistant Coach

The Grizzlies have added a new assistant coach to Taylor Jenkins‘ staff, announcing today in a press release that they’ve hired Sonia Raman, MIT’s longtime women’s basketball head coach.

“We are beyond excited to welcome Sonia to the Memphis Grizzlies,” Jenkins said in a statement. “She has a high basketball IQ and a tremendous ability to teach the game, as well as a strong passion for the game. She is going to be a great addition to our current coaching staff.”

Raman, who spent 12 years running the woman’s basketball program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, led the team to its first-ever NEWMAC championships in 2018 and 2019, as well as a pair of NCAA tournament berths. She’ll take the spot on the Grizzlies staff vacated by Niele Ivey, who left this spring to become the new women’s basketball head coach at Notre Dame.

According to former Grizzlies executive John Hollinger, sources told The Athletic that Raman “blew away” the Grizzlies during the interview process with her “Xs and O’s knowledge and personal skills.” She joins a group of assistants that also includes Brad Jones, Neven Spahija, Vitaly Potapenko, David McClure, and Scoonie Penn.

Warriors, Thunder, Heat Hold Largest TPEs

A number of traded player exceptions that were scheduled to expire in July had their deadlines pushed back to coincide with the NBA’s revamped offseason schedule. In order to give teams the opportunity to maximize their resources, the expiration dates for those trade exceptions have been postponed to ensure they fall after the start of 2020 free agency.

For instance, the Warriors‘ $17.2MM traded player exception, generated in last July’s Andre Iguodala deal, had initially been set to expire on July 7, one year after the team traded Iguodala and one day after the NBA’s July moratorium ended. Now, with the free agency moratorium scheduled to end on October 23, Golden State’s TPE will expire on October 24, giving the team a small window to use it.

Presumably, if free agency gets delayed again, as has been rumored, the deadlines for that Warriors TPE and others would be pushed back again too.

As we explain in greater depth in our glossary entry, traded player exceptions allow over-the-cap teams to acquire players without needing to match salaries. The Warriors’ Iguodala trade exception is the one that’s most frequently discussed and speculated about, but Golden State isn’t the only team with a TPE that could come in handy this offseason.

Listed below are the 10 most valuable trade exceptions still available, along with their current expiration dates. Teams that go below the cap to use their cap room this offseason will have to forfeit these TPEs to do so.

  1. Golden State Warriors: $17,185,185 (10/24/20)
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder: $10,389,997 (10/27/20)
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder: $9,346,153 (10/25/20)
  4. Miami Heat: $7,533,867 (2/8/21)
  5. Portland Trail Blazers: $7,069,662 (1/21/21)
  6. Memphis Grizzlies: $4,736,842 (10/25/20)
  7. Memphis Grizzlies: $4,185,185 (2/8/21)
  8. New York Knicks: $3,988,766 (2/8/21)
  9. Cleveland Cavaliers: $3,837,500 (12/24/20)
  10. Houston Rockets: $3,595,333 (2/5/21)

Check out our tracker for the full list of available traded player exceptions.