Grizzlies Rumors

Southwest Notes: Morant, Brooks, Murray, Pelicans, Rockets

Tonight marks the final game of Ja Morant‘s suspension, but coach Taylor Jenkins confirmed that Morant is unlikely to play on Monday when the Grizzlies host the Mavericks, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Monday will be Morant’s first day back at the team facility after being out of action since March 3, and Jenkins said his All-Star guard will need some time to get ready.

“It’s a good chance he’s probably out for the Monday game because it’s going to be his first day back with the team,” Jenkins said. “Our anticipation is he’s at least out Monday, and then we’ll cross the bridge for Wednesday as we get a little bit closer.”

The Grizzlies will host the Rockets on Wednesday and Friday, and although Morant is likely to play in at least one of those games, Cole states that the team hasn’t reached a final decision. He adds that Morant’s minutes will be monitored whenever he returns.

“From a basketball standpoint, we know this guy and how he is wired,” Jenkins said. “I know he’s putting in work, staying ready, and he’s going to be chomping at the bit to get out there with his teammates on Monday and Tuesday, and we’ll see what Wednesday holds.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Grizzlies are talking to league officials about rescinding Dillon Brooks‘ most recent technical foul, his 17th this season, Cole tweets. Jenkins said Brooks was walking away from a confrontation when the technical was assessed. Brooks was already suspended for one game when he reached 16 technicals this season and would face an additional one-game suspension for every two techs he accumulates the rest of the way.
  • Dejounte Murray isn’t sure what kind of reception to expect Sunday in his first game back in San Antonio since the Spurs traded him to the Hawks, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Some fans are upset about statements and social media posts from Murray regarding his time in the city. “At the end of the day, I love this city, I love the San Antonio Spurs organization, the Austin Spurs, I love everything about it,” Murray said Saturday. “However it goes (Sunday) is however it goes. But I am excited to see the people I love and care about.”
  • The Pelicans‘ decision to let Zion Williamson run the offense has resulted in a lot of inefficiency when he’s not available, states Christian Clark of NOLA. New Orleans has the fourth-worst record in the league since Williamson was lost with a hamstring injury in early January and is 26th in points per 100 possessions over that span.
  • The Rockets will likely be aggressive in trying to trade down in the draft if their first-round pick doesn’t land in the top three in the lottery, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Dillon Brooks Fined $35K By NBA

Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks has been fined $35K by the NBA, the league announced today in a press release (Twitter link).

According to the NBA’s release, the fine was a result of the “unsportsmanlike act of shoving a camera person on the sideline after pursuing a loose ball.”

The incident in question occurred with 2:40 left in the second quarter of the Grizzlies’ loss in Miami on Wednesday. Brooks was attempting to get to the ball before it bounced out of bounds near midcourt and fell into a camera person. In the process, he appeared to extend his left arm and push the camera person to the ground (video link).

This isn’t the first time Brooks has heard from the NBA this season. He was suspended for one game in February following an on-court altercation with Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell. Brooks was also the first player to accumulate 16 technical fouls, resulting in a one-game suspension earlier this month.

Brooks is earning $11.4MM in the final year of his current contract, so the $35K fine represents about 0.3% of his salary.

Grizzlies Notes: Morant, Expectations, JJJ, Bane

All-Star Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant is serving out the rest of his eight-game NBA suspension, due to a number of concerning offcourt issues, and could make his return to action as soon as this Monday.

Following a meeting with league commissioner Adam Silver, Morant sat down for an interview with ESPN’s Jalen Rose, in which he apologized and took accountability for his recent behavior.

These incidents away from the hardwood could have a major financial impact on what he’ll earn from his work on it. In a new piece, Keith Smith of Spotrac details how not qualifying for an All-NBA team this season would adversely affect the five-year, maximum-salary contract extension Morant signed last summer.

Language in the deal would enable Morant to earn more money with Memphis if he made an All-NBA team. Morant currently stands to make 25% of the NBA’s anticipated $134MM salary cap next season when the new extension begins. Were he to be named to an All-NBA team this year, his starting salary would begin at 30% of the cap.

Morant had a solid case for an All-NBA spot prior to his current suspension, but that case will be adversely affected by his extended absence.

There’s more out of Memphis:

  • The Grizzlies are not quite sure how Morant’s impending return to the floor will impact the team, writes Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Mannix notes that Morant was performing at an All-NBA level, and wonders if his extended time away will negatively affect his play in the short term.
  • While Morant has been away from the team, the pressure on the team’s other 2023 All-Star, power forward Jaren Jackson Jr., to produce offensively has increased, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “He always shows flashes, and that’s been the thing with him,” backup point guard Tyus Jones said. “Consistency. He’s very capable of doing that. We need that from him, and he wants it. That’s the most important thing. He wants to continue to improve, he wants to dominate, he wants to be great. That’s all you can ask for.”
  • Grizzlies shooting guard Desmond Bane was ejected last night from a game against the Heat, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link). Bane was assessed a Flagrant 2 foul for colliding with the groin of Heat power forward Kevin Love during a play (ESPN video link).

Ja Morant: “I Take Full Responsibility…I Made A Bad Mistake”

In an interview with ESPN’s Jalen Rose (partial video link), Grizzlies guard Ja Morant expressed contrition for flashing a gun at a Denver-area strip club, which led to him being suspended for eight games without pay. When asked who the gun belonged to, Morant simply replied “the gun wasn’t mine.”

It’s not who I am,” Morant said, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “I don’t condone it or any type of violence, but I take full responsibility from my actions. I made a bad mistake. I can see the image that I painted over myself with my recent mistakes. But in the future, I’m going to show everybody who Ja really is, what I’m about and change this narrative that everybody got.”

Regarding the other troubling off-court incidents that he’s reportedly been involved in over the past several months, Morant discussed them in vague terms.

The majority of the things that’s happened in the past, obviously, I kind of put myself into by even being there,” Morant said. “But all the incidents you’ve seen recently, most of them is a lie. I can’t speak too much on those situations because all of ’em are sealed. I really can’t wait to be able to finally tell the truth. But what I can say is, like I said before, none of those are my character. I’m a big family guy. I always care for my family. So it was just me checking on my family’s safety. Once my family is safe, I left the scene.”

Morant acknowledged that he and his inner circle have made some “bad decisions” recently, and says his time away — which included entering a counseling program — helped him reflect on those mistakes, according to MacMahon.

Honestly, I feel like we put ourselves in that situation with our past mistakes, and now it’s only right that we focus in and lock in on being smarter and more responsible, holding each other accountable for everything,” Morant said. “I feel like in the past we didn’t know what was at stake. And now finally me having that time to realize everything, have that time alone, I realize that now.

I realize what I have to lose, and for us as a group, what we have to lose. It’s pretty much just that being more responsible, more smarter and staying away from all the bad decisions.”

As MacMahon writes, the fourth-year guard says he’s in a better mental space now and has learned how to “manage stress in a positive way.” Morant technically could play in Monday’s game, which is when the retroactive suspension will lift, but he will require a short ramp-up period to get back in shape before he returns to action.

I also put my team in a tough position with me not being able to be out there on the floor for decisions I’ve made,” Morant said. “I regret all that. I can’t wait to be back out there on the floor now, knowing what my punishment is. I accept that, and I feel like I deserve that punishment for my mistakes and what I did. But when I get back out there, I’m going to be ready to go and ready to push for a ring.”

Trade Breakdown: Eric Gordon To The Clippers (Three-Team Deal)

This is the eighth entry in our series breaking down the significant trades of the 2022/23 season. As opposed to giving out grades, this series explores why the teams were motivated to make the moves. Let’s dive into a three-team deal between the Clippers, Rockets and Grizzlies

On February 9:

  • The Clippers acquired Eric Gordon (from the Rockets) and three second-round picks (from the Grizzlies; details here).
  • The Grizzlies acquired Luke Kennard (from the Clippers) and the right to swap a 2026 second-round pick with Los Angeles.
  • The Rockets acquired Danny Green (from the Grizzlies), John Wall (from the Clippers), and the right to swap the Bucks’ 2023 first-round pick for either the Clippers’ or Thunder’s 2023 first-round pick (whichever is least favorable; top-six protected; from Clippers)

The Rockets’ perspective:

Shortly after the trade, both Green and Wall were subsequently released by Houston; Green reached a buyout agreement and later signed with Cleveland, while Wall remains a free agent.

Multiple reports indicated that Houston was interested in keeping Green around, but obviously he had other plans. That makes a lot of sense — the three-time champion is 35 years old and the Rockets are the second-worst team in the NBA after finishing dead last in each of the previous two seasons.

After reaching a buyout with Wall over the summer, the Rockets wound up reacquiring him in this deal following his tumultuous first stint with the franchise. Considering he called his initial go-round “beyond trash,” it’s not surprising that he was waived outright this time.

The Rockets were rumored to be looking for a first-round pick for Gordon for at least a couple of years, and instead of receiving an extra one, they’re going to end up swapping a pick they control for one with much higher upside.

At the time of the trade, the Bucks were 37-17 and the Clippers were 31-27. Those picks would have landed at Nos. 28 and 18, respectively, last month.

The Bucks proceeded to go on a long winning streak and are now 50-19, holding a three-game lead over Boston for the best record in the NBA. Milwaukee’s 2023 first-rounder would currently land at No. 30.

The Clippers are now 36-33. Their first-rounder remains at No. 18.

However, the 34-35 Thunder only trail the Clippers by two games, and they have swap rights with the Clippers – if Oklahoma City passes L.A. in the standings, Houston would instead receive the Thunder’s 2023 first-rounder.

If both the Clippers and Thunder miss the playoffs – which is certainly possible, given how jumbled the standings are – then the Thunder would receive the more favorable of the two lottery picks. Assuming the second pick falls outside of the top six (highly likely given how the NBA’s draft lottery works), that pick would go to Houston, with the Clippers receiving Milwaukee’s pick.

All of that is basically out of the Rockets’ control. The Clippers could easily finish as high as fourth in the West or could drop out of the playoffs entirely – six teams trail them in the standings by three games or less.

Long story short, there’s a chance the Rockets could receive a late lottery pick, but perhaps more likely a pick in the late teens, in exchange for Gordon and a pick in the 27-to-30 range.

Gordon was having a down season for Houston, is 34 years old, and makes $19.57MM this season (his $20.92MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed). I’m honestly surprised the Rockets were able to get as much for him as they did, given those factors.

The Rockets also created a $3.09MM traded player exception in this deal, as noted in our TPE tracker.

The Clippers’ perspective:

Gordon is eight years older than Kennard, and it would be a little surprising if the Clippers bring him back next season on his current contract. Still, he’s a better all-around player than Kennard, and the Clippers did get back three second-rounders from Memphis to somewhat offset giving up a higher value first-rounder to Houston.

While Kennard has remained a highly efficient three-point shooter with the Clippers in ’22/23, he battled a calf strain that sidelined him for significant stretches – he only appeared in 35 of 58 games. He also wasn’t a major part of the team’s playoff rotation a couple years ago and can be frustratingly passive on offense considering he’s a minus on the defensive end – it’s bizarre to see a 44.9% three-point shooter not be more aggressive looking for his shot.

Wall struggled mightily on both ends with Los Angeles, posting a .408/303/.681 shooting line (.498 true shooting percentage) while playing porous defense. Shedding his salary in this deal could be viewed as a bonus, as there were rumors that the Clippers might buy him out if they couldn’t trade him.

Guard play was a major weakness on the roster, and Gordon was a necessary upgrade for a team hoping to compete for a title. Sure, the Clippers took on the most risk in this trade, but you could easily make the argument that not making changes would have been an even bigger risk – both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can opt out of their contracts in 2024, and the team still owes unprotected first-rounders and swaps to the Thunder through 2026 as part of the George trade.

I didn’t view Gordon as having a relatively down season with Houston as that big of a deal. His driving ability was still there, his true shooting percentage (57.2%) remained above average for a guard, and can you really blame him for being frustrated by the situation?

When Gordon signed with the Rockets in 2016, they were a regular playoff team that had already made one conference finals appearance (in 2015). They came very close to making the Finals in 2018, but wound up losing in seven games.

The following season, the Rockets won 53 games and were eliminated by Golden State again, after which Gordon signed an extension. They made the playoffs again in ‘19/20, but everything turned to dust when James Harden requested a trade. The past few seasons Gordon became the de facto elder statesman on a roster full of very young players.

That’s not to say Gordon is still in his physical prime; that came when he first entered the league back in 2008 with the Clippers, the team that selected him No. 7 overall out of Indiana. A couple of significant knee injuries from 2011-12 changed that trajectory.

However, Gordon still evolved into a valuable player, leaning into his long-range shooting and quick first step to attack players off the dribble with Houston. He still possesses those qualities in his 15th NBA season.

In 10 games (25.0 MPG) in his second stint with the Clippers, he’s averaging 10.1 PPG, 1.9 RPG and 2.4 APG on .447/.386/.762 shooting splits (.592 TS%). He has posted a 3.43 assist-to-turnover ratio in those contests, which is an impressive mark.

One of Gordon’s strengths is that he’s self-aware. He knows his job isn’t to be a primary scorer anymore — it’s to shoot open threes, leverage his shooting to drive and draw fouls, or kick out to open shooters. He’s a smart, unselfish passer on the perimeter.

Another positive attribute that Gordon brings to the Clippers is that at 6’3″ and 215 pounds, he has a low center of gravity and a strong core, which allows him to defend forwards. Houston often ran switching schemes in the past, and he’s comfortable as part of a five-out offense as well – two things that Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue favors in the postseason.

Gordon has played the entire fourth quarter in each of the past three games, all victories. I expect that to continue as the Clippers attempt to secure a playoff spot and make a deep postseason run.

The Grizzlies’ perspective:

Memphis had the best available information on Green’s recovery from a torn ACL, as he spent the majority of the season rehabbing – he had just made his season debut on February 1, eight days before the trade deadline. I’m sure the Grizzlies valued his locker room presence, but if they didn’t think he could contribute down the stretch, there wasn’t much to be gained by keeping him around, as his contract was set to expire at the end of the season.

Kennard, on the other hand, is only 26 years old, nine years younger than Green. He brings a much-needed skill to the Grizzlies, who rank just 25th in the league in three-point percentage (34.3%).

The lefty sharpshooter out of Duke led the league in three-point shooting last season and has matched that stellar mark (44.9%) in 46 total games in ‘22/23. Kennard is also under team control for multiple seasons – he’ll make $15.42MM in ’23/24 and the Grizzlies will hold a team option for the same salary in ’24/25.

Kennard has shown in the past that he has some play-making chops as well, averaging 4.1 APG back in ‘19/20 with Detroit. Through 11 games (21.0 MPG) with Memphis, he’s averaging 6.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG and 1.9 APG on .404/.455/1.000 shooting splits (.611 TS%).

The Grizzlies’ roster is full of players in their early-to-mid 20s, with veteran center Steven Adams the elder statesman at 29. Kennard fits perfectly with their timeline as far as that goes, and he’s young enough that he could certainly improve in the coming years.

As previously mentioned, Kennard is not a great individual defender, but he does fine in team concepts and is generally in the right spots. The Grizzlies have a few excellent defensive players on the roster, so perhaps they will be able to mask some of his weaknesses.

This could be viewed as both a short- and long-term upgrade for the Grizzlies, and adding Kennard’s extra salary this season (he makes $14.42MM this season vs. Green’s outgoing $10MM salary) didn’t affect the team much financially, as they’re still well below the luxury tax threshold.

Kennard’s mid-sized contract isn’t onerous given his age and shooting ability. The Grizzlies could conceivably use him as a salary-matching piece in the future as well if they’re so inclined.

Two-to-four second-round picks seemed to be a sweet spot for landing role player upgrades at the deadline. The Grizzlies moved three to land Kennard, but still have all of their own future first-rounders – along with one extra in 2024 – if they want to make a major trade down the line.

It’s interesting that the Clippers agreed to send Kennard to a Western Conference rival, particularly one they might have to face in the postseason. I’m sure he would have a little extra motivation if the Grizzlies are matched up against the Clippers in the playoffs.

Ja Morant Meets With Adam Silver, Receives Suspension

2:02pm: The NBA has suspended Morant for eight games without pay, the league announced today in a press release (Twitter link). However, that suspension will be retroactive to March 5, the first game he missed, so he’ll be eligible to return to action this coming Monday (March 20).

According to the NBA’s announcement, its investigation did not determine that the gun Morant brandished in the Instagram Live video belonged to him or that he brought it to the night club. The investigation also didn’t find that Morant possessed the gun while traveling with the Grizzlies or at any NBA facility.

“Ja’s conduct was irresponsible, reckless, and potentially very dangerous,” Silver said in a statement. “It also has serious consequences given his enormous following and influence, particularly among young fans who look up to him.

“He has expressed sincere contrition and remorse for this behavior. Ja has also made it clear to me that he has learned from this incident and that he understands his obligations and responsibility to the Memphis Grizzlies and the broader NBA community extend well beyond his play on the court.”

After being away from the Grizzlies for multiple weeks, Morant may not suit up on Monday immediately upon rejoining the team, but the expectation it that his return will occur not long after that, tweets Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian.

Morant’s eight missed games will cost him nearly $669K in salary, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. His base salary for this season had been approximately $12.1MM.

1:54pm: Grizzlies star Ja Morant met with NBA commissioner Adam Silver in New York on Wednesday, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

While Wojnarowski doesn’t offer any details on what was discussed during that meeting, he says Morant has left his counseling program in Florida and is moving closer to preparing for a return to the court. However, the All-Star guard will have to wait until the NBA announces the results of its investigation into his Instagram Live video from a Denver-area strip club, which is expected to happen soon, per Wojnarowski.

The NBA opened a probe into Morant after he posted a video in which he flashed a gun at a strip club. It was the latest in a series of troubling off-court incidents allegedly involving the 23-year-old, who punched a 17-year-old during a pickup game last summer, was accused of threatening a security guard at a Memphis mall, and was reportedly involved in a confrontation with members of the Pacers’ traveling party after a January game.

After the league announced it was looking into the latest incident involving Morant, the Grizzlies said that he would be away from the team for two games, then four more. He’ll miss his sixth game on Wednesday night when Memphis visits the Heat in Miami and it sounds like his status beyond that will be determined in large part by the outcome of the NBA’s investigation.

Police also investigated the strip club video and didn’t find enough evidence to bring any charges against Morant, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the league will close its own probe without disciplining the Grizzlies guard.

The NBA has a good deal of latitude to fine or suspend players for conduct detrimental to the league’s best interests. The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement also includes language specifically related to firearms, so if there’s evidence that Morant had a gun on him when traveling with the team or when at a team facility, that could result in a more punitive penalty.

Still, based on the tone of Wojnarowski’s latest report, it doesn’t sound like the league is preparing to drop the hammer on Morant.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies’ star:

  • While news of Morant entering a counseling program didn’t break until this Monday, he took that step earlier in the month, shortly after announcing that he would be away from the team, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link).
  • While he was in Florida undergoing counseling, Morant was communicating with his Memphis teammates via text and FaceTime video, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Vardon adds that Morant was accompanied to that “retreat-like setting” in Florida by a Grizzlies security officer.
  • In a separate story for The Athletic, Vardon spoke to a handful of Grizzlies players about their conversations with Morant and noted that they seemed to be operating under the belief that the star guard would rejoin the club, possibly very soon. Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks said Morant has “made strides” and is “ready to come back.”

And-Ones: Team USA, Bane, Jackson, All-Star Game, CBA

USA Basketball managing director Grant Hill confirmed on Monday that Team USA won’t require its invitees to try out for World Cup or Olympic rosters or to make any sort of multiyear commitment to the program, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Under former managing director Jerry Colangelo, Team USA invited more than 12 players to its World Cup camp and then made cuts from there to finalize its roster. Colangelo also asked stars to commit to taking part in Team USA activities for more than a single offseason in an effort to develop some roster continuity. However, Hill is hoping that continuity can be established quickly by selecting a 12-man roster early without going through the tryout process and then letting those dozen players develop chemistry with one another.

“There’s been a little bit of a generational shift that’s occurred in the league and basketball in general, and so I think we have to be willing to adapt and adjust to the times and adapt and adjust to players today,” Hill said, per Vardon. “We feel that it’s best served going forward to use that time to come together as a team and to really work on building that chemistry and that camaraderie and preparing for a very different game and a different style of play that exists in international play.”

Hill also announced on Monday that Team USA will play pre-World Cup exhibition contests against Spain and Slovenia this August ahead of previously confirmed tune-up games in Abu Dhabi. Spain, on the strength of its 2019 World Cup victory, is currently the No. 1 team in FIBA’s international rankings, while Slovenia will be led by Mavericks star Luka Doncic.

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

  • Grizzlies wing Desmond Bane and big man Jaren Jackson Jr. are among the players that have been asked by Team USA head coach Steve Kerr about the possibility of suiting up for the U.S. in the World Cup later this year, according to Vardon.
  • NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum acknowledged that the All-Star Game could benefit from some “tweaks,” but doesn’t believe the event needs to be fundamentally altered, he tells Leonard Solms of ESPN. “We have to be cautious. It is an exhibition game, so we don’t want players getting hurt during that game,” Tatum said. “Understand: there’s a balance there. It’s something that we’re looking at – and having conversations, by the way, with the players, on things that we might be able to do differently next year.”
  • Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports takes a deep dive into the challenges of collective bargaining for the NBA and its’ players union, exploring why the next CBA is more likely to include a series of modest tweaks rather than any sweeping changes.

Bucks Notes: Giannis, Lopez, Portis, Kings Skirmish

While Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid may end up as the top two finishers in MVP voting this season for the third consecutive year, Bucks general manager Jon Horst wants to make sure voters don’t overlook two-time winner Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Speaking to Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Horst expressed a belief that Antetokounmpo is suffering from “greatness fatigue,” with voters getting accustomed to the eye-popping numbers that the star forward is putting up. Antetokounmpo is averaging a career-best 31.5 points per game in 53 games this season to go along with 11.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists per night while playing at an All-Defensive level. At 49-19, the Bucks have the NBA’s best record.

“He’s also doing this playing less minutes than anybody, which is remarkable. That’s a sacrifice,” Horst said of Giannis, who is averaging just 32.5 minutes per contest. “That’s an intentional sacrifice by him to give our team the best chance to have the deepest playoff success possible.

“That’s not an easy thing. That’s something that he does so he’s ready to perform at the biggest moments. Give the guy 36, 37, 38 minutes a game, there’s not even a conversation. Obviously you can see I’m very strong (on this) and I believe it.”

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • In his conversation with Owczarski, Horst also made cases for Bobby Portis as the Sixth Man of the Year and Brook Lopez as the Defensive Player of the Year. “He contests more shots than anybody,” the Bucks’ GM said of Lopez. “His blocks are league-leading. He does it without fouling. … The guy is absolutely deserving of an award this year. I think it all matters. The reason that I think this team has been really good even though we’ve had a lot of other moving parts has been his consistency. He’s an anchor for us and he plays every night. And he’s gotten better. This guy is having a career year. It’s incredible.”
  • A panel of writers at The Athletic – David Aldridge, James L. Edwards III, and Josh Robbins – debated the current Defensive Player of the Year frontrunners and all submitted hypothetical three-man ballots that included two Bucks players. Edwards has Lopez first and Antetokounmpo second in his DPOY rankings, while Aldridge placed Lopez and Giannis second and third and Robbins had Lopez and Holiday as his two runners-up (both Aldridge and Robbins made Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. their current DPOY pick).
  • Antetokounmpo and Lopez were among the players involved in a scuffle during the final seconds of the Bucks’ win over the Kings on Monday night. As Marc J. Spears of ESPN writes, Kings forward Trey Lyles took exception to Giannis dribbling the ball toward him while running out the clock and tried to steal it before shoving Antetokounmpo, resulting in a brief on-court skirmish between the two teams (Twitter video link via Bleacher Report). Lopez and Lyles were both ejected and will likely face additional discipline in the form of fines, if not suspensions. “Giannis could just dribble the ball out,” Kings guard De’Aaron Fox said after the game. “That’s all he had to do, and nothing would have happened.”

Ja Morant Enters Counseling Program, Still Out Indefinitely

Grizzlies star guard Ja Morant has entered a counseling program in Florida and there remains no timetable for his return to the court, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon report (Twitter link).

Morant has already missed five games. He took a leave of absence following an incident in which he flashed a gun on an Instagram Live video while at a Denver-area strip club. Police in Glendale, Colorado said last week that Morant wouldn’t be charged with a crime for his actions at the club.

However, Morant has allegedly been involved in a number of troubling off-court incidents, convincing him to seek help.

Prior to Memphis’ game on Monday against Dallas, coach Taylor Jenkins was asked about Morant’s potential return date. He did not provide any specifics, MacMahon tweets.

“There are a lot of internal dialogues going on and obviously there’s still things going on at the league level that we’re in communication with,” Jenkins said. “Ja’s fully engaged in this process and ready for whatever comes next after these two games.”

Southwest Notes: Morant, Roddy, Wood, H. Jones

In addition to the off-court incidents allegedly involving Ja Morant that have been previously reported, the Grizzlies guard was also investigated by police in September for an incident at Houston High School in Tennessee, according to a TMZ report.

As TMZ details, police said that Morant’s sister – a student at Houston H.S. – got into a verbal argument with another student following a volleyball game and called Ja, who allegedly showed up at the gym a short time later with his parents, his baby daughter, and a “group” of adult males.

While the incident didn’t escalate much further, the mother of the student who was initially involved in the altercation with Morant’s sister wanted to press charges for threats and intimidation, according to TMZ, whose report says police investigated and decline to file any charges. Police later told the Grizzlies’ head of security to give a “verbal trespass warning to all parties” at the request of the school’s principal, per TMZ.

Morant has missed the Grizzlies’ last four games while he takes a leave of absence following an incident in which he flashed a gun on an Instagram Live video while at a Denver-area strip club. He’ll remain away from the team for at least two more contests.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Grizzlies rookie David Roddy had the best game of his young NBA career in a victory over Dallas on Saturday, scoring 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting in 23 minutes. As Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes, Roddy has been hard on himself during the ups and downs of his first professional season, so his teammates were thrilled to see him break through. “He holds himself to a high standard, and that’s why he’ll be in the league for a long time,” Tyus Jones said.
  • Mavericks big man Christian Wood was averaging more than 38 minutes per night in his last five games as a starter before fracturing his thumb in January, but has come off the bench in each of his 13 contests since returning and has averaged fewer than 20 minutes in those games. On Saturday, head coach Jason Kidd cited the team’s frontcourt depth as the reason for Wood’s modest role (Twitter video link via Bally Sports), an explanation that Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link) has trouble buying.
  • In just his second NBA season, Herbert Jones has emerged as a team leader and a key part of the Pelicans‘ identity, but he’ll need to become more reliable as a shooter to establish himself as more than just a defensive specialist, writes William Guillory of The Athletic. Jones’ shooting numbers have slipped to .444/.291/.748 in 2022/23.