Grizzlies Rumors

Ball, Edwards, Haliburton Head All-Rookie Team

LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, Jae’Sean Tate and Saddiq Bey comprised this year’s All-Rookie First Team, according to an NBA Communications tweet.

Ball, who was named Rookie of the Year on Thursday, led first-year NBA players in assists (6.1 APG) and steals (1.59 SPG) and ranked second in scoring (15.7 PPG) and rebounding (5.9 RPG) for the Hornets. Edwards, the No. 1 pick in the draft by the Timberwolves, averaged a rookie-high 19.3 PPG.

The Kings’ Haliburton ranked third among rookies in scoring (13.0 PPG) and second in assists (5.3 APG).  Bey, the 19th overall pick, made a rookie-high 175 three-pointers for the Pistons.  Tate, who went undrafted in 2018 and played in Australia last season, averaged 11.3 PPG and 5.3 PPG for the Rockets.

The All-Rookie Second Team consists of Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley, Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane, Pistons center Isaiah Stewart, Cavaliers forward Isaac Okoro and Bulls forward Patrick Williams.

Draft Notes: Mamukelashvili, Carr, Champagnie, Figueroa, Cockburn, Sims

Seton Hall’s Sandro Mamukelashvili is scheduled to work out for the Pistons on Thursday, Adam Zagoria of the New York Times tweets. The 6’11” Mamukelashvili already worked out for the Jazz, Thunder and Hornets. He’s currently listed as the No. 56 overall prospect on ESPN’s Best Available list.

We have more news and insights on this year’s draft:

Olympic Notes: Lillard, Green, Canada, Serbia, Italy

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and Warriors forward/center Draymond Green are among the first players to commit to Team USA ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, sources tell Shams Charania and Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Team USA figures to bring more than a dozen players to its initial camp this summer before paring down the roster to 12 for Tokyo, so Lillard’s and Green’s commitments don’t guarantee that they’ll be part of the final Olympic roster. However, it seems safe to assume that spots on the 12-man squad will be reserved for the two stars as long as they remain healthy and committed.

Green won a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics, while Lillard has yet to play for Team USA in a major international tournament. Green and Lillard are two of the 57 names listed as part of USA Basketball’s initial player pool in March, though as we noted last week, many of the players on that list seem unlikely to participate for a variety of reasons, including injuries.

Here are a few more updates from around the international basketball world:

  • Team Canada’s preliminary roster for the Olympic qualifying tournament later this month included 14 current NBA players. However, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic and Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter links), at least three of those NBA players – Pacers forward Oshae Brissett, Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks, and Celtics center Tristan Thompson – now aren’t expected to participate.
  • The Serbian national team is preparing for the possibility of being without several key players for this month’s qualifying tournament, according to a MozzartSport report (hat tip to Sportando). Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic and reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets are among the players considered unlikely to be available for the OQT in Belgrade.
  • Longtime NBA shooting guard Marco Belinelli announced that he won’t be part of the Italian team attempting to earn an Olympic berth at this month’s qualifying tournament in Belgrade, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Belinelli, who is now playing for Virtus Bologna, wants to rest to make sure he’s 100% healthy for next season.

Grizzlies Face Extension Decision On Jackson; Herrington Assesses Most Valuable Grizzlies

Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. will be eligible for a contract extension of his rookie deal in August, and Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal contends that Memphis’ executive VP Zach Kleiman should exercise caution with Jackson, who has been healthy for just 126 of a possible 227 regular season games across his three seasons with the Grizzlies.

Barnes notes that the Grizzlies could take some steps to insure themselves against future Jackson maladies, like possibly baking an Exhibit 3 clause into a new contract to temper Jackson’s guaranteed money. The Grizzlies can opt to hold off on inking Jackson to an extension until October 18, the day before the 2021/22 season is set to begin.

  • With the young Grizzlies having officially entered their offseason, Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian takes a look at the club’s most valuable players. Point guard Ja Morant, Jackson, and wing Dillon Brooks comprise Herrington’s top three. Herrington wonders about the offensive ceiling of Brooks and the long-term healthy of JJJ.

Grizzlies Notes: Offseason, Morant, Winslow

In the wake of the Grizzlies‘ elimination from the postseason, executive VP of basketball operations Zach Kleiman vowed to “keep pushing forward” and expressed a “massive belief” in the team’s core, as Michael Wallace of Grind City Media writes.

[RELATED: Grizzlies Sign Zach Kleiman To Contract Extension]

Kleiman acknowledged that the team’s growth and progress toward contending for a title may not always be linear, but said he’s confident it’s headed in the right direction and that he believes players will want to be part of what the Grizzlies are putting together.

“The culture we’re building, the way we want to play, the personalities of Ja (Morant) and Jaren (Jackson Jr.), players are going to want to play with these guys,” Kleiman said. “We’re building an organization that’s going to compete at the highest level, have the best medical care, the best player development, no state income tax in Memphis, it’s an incredibly comfortable place to live. We’re building something here guys are going to want to continue to be a part of, and I believe something that players are going to be attracted to.”

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • While the Grizzlies need to continue upgrading the roster around him, Ja Morant‘s leadership and next developmental steps will be a crucial part of the team’s offseason, Wallace writes in a separate story for Grind City Media.
  • Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal weighs the pros and cons of bringing back Justise Winslow for the 2021/22 season. Memphis has until August 1 to make a decision on Winslow’s $13MM team option, though the team could technically re-sign him even after declining his option.
  • In the first part of a two-part series, Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian ranks the Grizzlies’ players in order of their importance going forward, starting with the players who aren’t locks to be part of the team’s future. Herrington speculates that Memphis will pick up Winslow’s team option and suggests that if the club makes a major trade, there’s a good chance that at least one of Brandon Clarke and Xavier Tillman would be on the move.

Draft Notes: Thor, C. Parker, Combine, T. Taylor

Auburn freshman forward JT Thor has decided to remain in the 2021 NBA draft and go pro, announcing on Instagram that he has signed with an agency (hat tip to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports).

Thor’s numbers were modest during his first and only college season. In 27 games (all starts) for the Tigers, he averaged 9.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 1.4 BPG on .440/.297/.741 shooting in 23.0 minutes per contest. However, his stock is thought to be rising ahead of next month’s draft.

Thor, currently ranked No. 66 on ESPN’s big board, is generating a “ton of buzz” based on his workouts in Miami, according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report, who tweets that the 6’10” youngster is showing “flashes of untapped shot-making versatility.”

Here’s more on the 2021 draft:

  • Liberty guard Chris Parker, who declared for the draft following his senior season, tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link) that he has signed with an agent and plans to keep his name in the draft pool rather than using his extra year of NCAA eligibility. Parker, who began his college career at Henderson State, averaged 10.3 PPG and 3.4 APG on .455/.373/.826 shooting in 29 games (28.3 MPG) in 2020/21.
  • Approximately 100 prospects will be invited to participate in either the 2021 draft combine or the college portion of the G League Elite Camp, says Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). Givony expects a few more international prospects at this year’s combine since the pre-draft calendar has been pushed back by about a month.
  • Austin Peay wing Terry Taylor has workouts lined up with the Warriors, Grizzlies, and Kings this week, according to Alex Kennedy of BasketballNews.com (Twitter link).

Kleiman May Exercise Team Option On Winslow

Grizzlies executive VP of basketball operations Zach Kleiman has until August 1 to make a decision on the team’s $13MM option on Justise Winslow, and may still see the forward as part of the team’s future, writes Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

The oft-injured 25-year-old appeared in just 26 of a possible 72 games this season for Memphis due to a variety of maladies. He was out of the Grizzlies’ rotation in their first-round playoff series loss to the Jazz.

Grizzlies Sign Zach Kleiman To Contract Extension

The Grizzlies have inked executive vice president of basketball operations and general manager Zach Kleiman to a long-term extension, according to an official team press release. The exact terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Kleiman has been Memphis’s lead front office decision maker since April 2019, when the club overhauled its basketball operations department and reassigned former GM Chris Wallace to the scouting department. As Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets, Kleiman played a big part in rebuilding the team from the “Grit and Grind” era to its current roster.

Kleiman traded longtime Grizzlies veterans Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, drafted rising star Ja Morant, and hired current head coach Taylor Jenkins. He’s also responsible for locking up players like Dillon Brooks, De’Anthony Melton, and Jonas Valanciunas to reasonably team-friendly multiyear contracts.

“Zach has proven to be a strong cultural leader in this organization, consistently demonstrating high-integrity, hard-work, humility and a drive for continuous improvement,” Grizzlies owner Robert Pera said in a statement. “We have confidence in our strategy and believe it will result in an elite organization over the long-term.”


Alex Kirschenbaum contributed to this story.

Big Offseason On Tap For Grizzlies

  • Now that their offseason has officially commenced, the Grizzlies could begin reshaping their roster around star point guard Ja Morant and promising big man  Jaren Jackson Jr., writes Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian. Morant took his play to the next level during Memphis’ series against Utah, averaging 30 PPG (on 49% field goal shooting), 8 APG, and 5 RPG. Though Morant is still honing his defense and outside shooting, he showed off his brilliance as a ball handler and interior scorer, Herrington contends. Assessing the long-term fits of Morant’s supporting cast, including Jackson, Dillon Brooks, Desmond Bane, Grayson Allen, De’Anthony Melton, and veteran center Jonas Valanciunas, Herrington suggests that Morant and Jackson may be the only two guaranteed mainstays on the roster.

Three Jazz Fans Banned, Ejected Following Behavior Towards Morant's Parents

The 24-year-old’s return to the floor helped galvanize the Jazz. Utah ultimately beat the Grizzlies 141-129 to knot their first-round series at 1-1.

  • During the Jazz’s Game 2 victory over the Grizzlies, Vivint Arena security ejected three fans for unruly verbal behavior directed toward the parents of star Memphis point guard Ja Morant, writes Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The team has banned the individuals from Utah’s home arena indefinitely.