- After being held out of Monday’s game, Josh Jackson once again won’t play for the Memphis Hustle on Wednesday, the Grizzlies announced today (via Twitter). Jackson, who reportedly missed a team meeting, has essentially received a two-game suspension for violating team rules.
- What sort of trade options might the Grizzlies have for Andre Iguodala? Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian takes a deep dive and explores several hypothetical scenarios, labeling the Mavericks as Memphis’ most logical trade partner and the Nuggets and Raptors as possible wild cards.
- O’Connor hears that there’s “no world” in which the Grizzlies buy out Andre Iguodala. Memphis will trade him — it’s just a matter of when and where, says O’Connor. A source tells The Ringer that the Grizzlies are open to any type of trade package, even if it means taking back a multiyear contract.
While Pelicans fans continue to wait for their top pick to return to action, the Grizzlies got some good news today regarding the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), Ja Morant will return to action on Monday night vs. Golden State. Morant hasn’t played since November 29 due to back spasms.
- Former No. 4 overall pick Josh Jackson was held out of today’s Memphis Hustle game for violating team rules, the Grizzlies‘ G League affiliate announced (via Twitter). Jackson missed a team meeting, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. It’s a disappointing turn of events for a player who had been doing a good job rehabbing his image in the G League. As David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal details, Jackson had been considered a strong teammate and leader with the Hustle so far this season.
Just three days after ruling out Ja Morant with a week-to-week injury, the Grizzlies have done the same with their other prized rookie. Forward Brandon Clarke aggravated a sore left oblique muscle during Sunday’s game and will be sidelined on a week-to-week basis, the team announced today in a press release.
The 6-14 Grizzlies are certainly lottery-bound, but Morant and Clarke have at least been two bright spots – and reasons to keep an eye on the young team in Memphis – so far this season. Clarke has averaged 11.8 PPG and 5.9 RPG with a .630 FG% in 18 games (21.2 MPG). In his absence, the club will presumably lean a little more heavily on bigs like Jaren Jackson Jr., Solomon Hill, and Bruno Caboclo.
The star point guard first hurt his back in Monday’s game at Indiana when he collided with a camera operator after a layup attempt, writes David Cobb of The Commercial Appeal. He was helped off the court and appeared to be pointing to the middle of his upper back, Cobb adds, but later returned to the game.
Morant scored just 11 points against the Jazz last night, shooting 4 of 13 from the field, and appeared to be bothered by back pain. He is off to a strong start in his first NBA season, averaging 18.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.4 assists through 17 games.
Morant’s absence provides an opportunity for Tyus Jones, who came to Memphis this summer when the Timberwolves declined to match a three-year, $24MM offer sheet. He is averaging 19.3 minutes per night as a backup to Morant. Marko Guduric and De’Anthony Melton should also get an increase in playing time.
Former Jazz forward Jae Crowder took time this week to discuss his time with the team, detailing the close friendships he made and the impact head coach Quin Snyder had on him.
Crowder, who was acquired by the Grizzlies last July, also discussed Memphis’ slow start to the 2019/20 season in an interview with Aaron Falk of Jazz.com.
“We’ve come out on the losing end, so obviously we’re not where we want to be but we’re figuring it out,” Crowder said. “We’re competing at a high level and trying to do what it takes to win games. At this level, with a young team, it’s just hard to win games. We’re learning from our losses and wins and trying to build every day.”
The Jazz traded for Crowder in February of 2018, giving the 29-year-old roughly one-and-a-half seasons with the franchise. He averaged 11.9 points in 80 games for the team last season, quickly gaining respect from the fans and confidence from the coaching staff.
“He just gave me a mindset that added on to fueling my fire,” Crowder said of Snyder. “To always compete at a high level and always embrace wherever you’re at in life. He gave me a role on that team and I’m appreciative of him. I’ve told him that personally. I appreciate him believing in me, believing in my effort and coaching me the way that he coached me.”
There’s more from the Western Conference today:
- The Lakers tied a team record on Friday for the best start in franchise history, extending their current record to 17-2. The team recorded their 10th straight win with a victory over Washington, led by the likes of Anthony Davis (26 points, 13 rebounds) and LeBron James (23 points, 11 assists). “Obviously, this is a historic franchise; they have done so many great things,” Davis said, as relayed by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. “To be a part of a franchise like this is definitely amazing. I just want to leave my mark here and just keep it going. Obviously, our goal is to add another banner here. It’s something we feel like we can do, and if we do that, to be a part of that would be nothing but great.”
- Andre Iguodala, one of the league’s all-time great defenders, has tabbed Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday as the best defensive player in the NBA today. “Best defender in the league… @Jrue_Holiday11”, Iguodala wrote on social media. Holiday is consistently mentioned as one of the toughest defenders in the NBA, with the 29-year-old making the All-Defensive Second Team in 2019 and All-Defensive First Team in 2018.
- Timberwolves forward Keita Bates-Diop is slowly but surely forcing his way into the team’s rotation, Chris Hine writes for the Star Tribune. Bates-Diop, 23, was drafted 48th overall in 2018 by the Wolves after spending four seasons at Ohio State. He’s averaged 8.9 points in seven games (17.9 MPG) this season.
Dejounte Murray has come off the bench for the Spurs recently and the point guard says that he’s not stressing over his role.
“I am just here to play basketball, man,” Murray said when asked how he’s handling coming off the bench (via Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News). “Try to be a great teammate. And on the basketball end, play as great as I can on both ends of the floor and just compete.”
Murray was set to enter the 2018/19 season as the starting point guard before suffering a knee injury that cost him the season. Derrick White stepped up as the starter last year and coach Gregg Popovich believes that inserting White into the starting lineup this season will help the team improve its game.
Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal wonders if the Trail Blazers should pursue an Andre Iguodala trade with the Grizzlies. While there has been no link between Portland and the former Finals MVP, the team could use Iguodala’s defensive prowess as it looks to turn around its season.
- Andre Roberson has suffered several setbacks on his way back to the court, as Olivia Panchal of the Daily Thunder details. The Thunder forward, who ruptured his patellar tendon back in January of 2018, remains without a timetable to return.
- Miye Oni spoke with Matt John of Basketball Insiders to discuss being the only current NBA player who attended an Ivy League school. The Jazz selected Oni with the No. 58 overall pick out of Yale.
Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southwest Division:
Brandon Ingram, Pelicans, 22, SF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $23.8MM deal in 2016
More appropriately, Ingram’s stock is way, way up. Ingram’s last season with the Lakers was cut short by a blood clot issue. He averaged 18.3 PPG but there was still skepticism just how good Ingram was. He’s answered that emphatically in his first 13 games with the Pelicans, posting All-Star level numbers (26.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 4.2 APG, 45.9 percent on 3s). The Pelicans will make him a restricted free agent by extending a $9.48MM qualifying offer. Will Ingram re-sign with New Orleans, sign a big offer sheet, or sign the QO and test unrestricted free agency the following summer? For sure, he’ll get paid.
Courtney Lee, Mavericks, 34, SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $48MM deal in 2016
Lee’s value to Dallas is mainly his expiring contract, which could prove useful as the Mavs look to acquire another piece to their vastly improved squad. Lee’s playing time has been mainly limited to garbage-time minutes. After two solid seasons with the Knicks, Lee’s career has declined the past two seasons. His 3-point prowess (38.7 percent for his career) might earn him a short-term deal next summer but he won’t be making anywhere near $12MM next season.
Gerald Green, Rockets, 33, SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2019
Have we seen the last of Green in the NBA? That’s a strong possibility, considering his age and long-term rehab from a foot injury. He underwent surgery in late October and is expected to miss the regular season and likely the postseason as well. Green, a 12-year NBA veteran, has made prior stops with Boston, Minnesota, Houston, Dallas, New Jersey, Indiana, Phoenix and Miami during his professional career. He was a major contributor off the Rockets’ bench last season, averaging 9.2 PPG and 2.5 PPG in 73 contests. Another veteran’s minimum deal is his best hope.
Marco Belinelli, Spurs, 33, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $12MM deal in 2018
Belinelli’s perimeter shooting has made him one of the league’s most reliable second-unit players for years. The shooting touch has abandoned him, one of the many reasons the Spurs have struggled this season. Belinelli is shooting just 29 percent from the field while averaging 5.2 PPG. He has averaged in double figures off the bench for the past four seasons. Gregg Popovich has continued to give him steady minutes, so Bellinelli’s production should return to the norm. But if his playing time is reduced, he may have to settle for the veteran’s minimum next summer.
Dillon Brooks, Grizzlies, 23, SF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.8MM deal in 2017
Brooks was limited to 18 games last season, mainly due to a toe injury that required surgery in January. He has come back at full strength and started every game this season for the Grizzlies. He’s the team’s third-leading scorer at 13.3 PPG while making 38.7 percent of his 3-pointers. It’s a foregone conclusion the Grizzlies will extend a $2MM qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent this summer. The 2017 second-round pick will get a substantial pay raise regardless of how his free agent journey unfolds.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Andre Iguodala remains on the Grizzlies. He’s away from the team and the franchise is expected to trade him at some point this season. Many assume that Los Angeles will ultimately be where the former Finals MVP ends up but that’s far from a certain outcome.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com hears from rival executives that the Mavericks could be contenders for Iguodala’s services. Courtney Lee ($12.8MM) is on an expiring deal and the team could package him along with another young player or draft picks (Windhorst mentions Dallas’ extra second-round picks) to acquire Iguodala.
The Mavericks have the NBA’s best offense, though their defense is in the bottom half of the league, per NBA.com. Iguodala could bring his defensive prowess to a team that is already outproducing its expectations this season.
With their second-year point guard Aaron Holiday on a tear recently, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star notes that the Pacers will be sure to field a litany of trade offers. Nine months ago, team advisor Larry Bird apparently cautioned Indiana against including Holiday in a potential trade deal for Mike Conley with the Grizzlies. Bird was confident in the potential of Holiday, picked 23rd in the 2018 NBA Draft. The Magic and Suns apparently also expressed interest in making a move for Holiday around the 2018/19 trade deadline.
Following a performative hiccup at the start of the season, Holiday has picked up his play of late. Though he will return to the bench after starting in the injured Malcolm Brogdon‘s absence, Michael speculates that Holiday has displayed enough flashes to tantalize teams as a potential trade chip once again.
There’s more from Indianapolis:
- Speaking of Brogdon, The Athletic’s Scott Agness tweets that the point guard will return to the floor for the Pacers tomorrow against the Grizzlies for the first time since injuring his back on November 15th against the Rockets. “I think I stepped wrong and my back reacted strongly to it,” Brogdon said, per Agness. “They said I strained a muscle and possibly a joint. But now the inflammation has gone away, my movement is all the way back, I have no pain and I feel great on the court.”
- Two-way player Naz Mitrou-Long spoke with Mark Montieth of Pacers.com about his unlikely path to Indiana. A five-year college player for Iowa State, Mitrou-Long toiled in the 2017 Summer League and saw 15 games of NBA action as a two-way player for the Jazz in 2017/18 and 2018/19. He joined the Pacers on November 17th for emergency spot rotation minutes in a game against the Bucks before making the most out of the team’s next outing, a win against the Nets in which he scored 12 points in 25 minutes. “I know guys who have been in the league for three, four, five years who are looking to put a stretch together to reassure themselves,” Mitrou-Long said. “Playing a game like Brooklyn and getting my feet wet against Milwaukee, feeling the comfortability, it reassures me that I am an NBA player.”
- According to Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando, Pacers center/power forward Domantas Sabonis confirmed that he will appear for Lithuania in the FIBA Qualifying Tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “It’s what we have to go through to qualify for the next Olympics,” Sabonis observed. “We’re going to battle for the tournament and get a ticket for Japan.”