Grizzlies Rumors

Grizzlies To Interview Tibbetts For Coaching Job

The Grizzlies have been granted permission to interview Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts for their head coaching vacancy, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Tibbetts has been on other teams’ lists recently during their head coaching searches. He was expected to be interviewed by the Cavaliers, but they chose Michigan coach John Beilein before that potential meeting. Tibbetts interviewed with the Suns before they selected Monty Williams. He was also one of four finalists for the Hawks job last summer that went to Lloyd Pierce.

Memphis, which parted ways with J.B. Bickerstaff after the season, has already interviewed at least three other candidates for the job — former Suns coach Igor Kokoskov, Jazz assistant Alex Jensen and Warriors assistant Jarron Collins. Memphis is also believed to have interest in Lithuania’s Sarunas Jasikevicius.

The Grizzlies are the only team that hasn’t filled its head coaching vacancy.

Grizzlies Interview Igor Kokoskov

Former Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov is the latest candidate to interview for the head coaching vacancy in Memphis, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Kokoskov was fired last month after just one season with Phoenix, leading the Suns to a 19-63 record, which tied for the second-worst mark in the league. He reportedly had two years remaining on the contract he signed last summer.

[RELATED: 2019 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Jazz assistant Alex Jensen and Warriors assistant Jarron Collins are the only other known candidates to interview with the Grizzlies. Memphis is also believed to have interest in Lithuania’s Sarunas Jasikevicius.

The Grizzlies and Timberwolves are the only teams currently conducting coaching searches. The Kings, Suns, Lakers and Cavaliers have already filled their vacancies.

Morant Would Be Happy To Play For Grizzlies

Point guard Ja Morant wouldn’t mind if he’s drafted by a small-market team like the Grizzlies, he told David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal and other media members on Friday.

The Grizzlies are reportedly zeroing in on the Murray State floor leader with the No. 2 selection in the draft. A pair of big-market teams, the Knicks and Lakers, are next in line in the draft, but Morant says it’s all the same to him.

“If a team drafts me, big market or small market, it doesn’t matter,” Morant said at the draft combine. “I’m going to be happy where I’m at.”

Morant could join the Grizzlies’ lottery selection from last season, big man Jaren Jackson Jr., as the key figures in the club’s rebuild. Morant met with the Pelicans, who hold the No. 1 selection and will almost assuredly select Duke’s Zion Williamson, as well as Memphis and New York at the combine. He did not participate in any 5-on-5 games in Chicago.

He admits he’s not familiar with the city of Memphis.

“I just know Memphis Grizzlies basketball and that’s it,” Morant said. “If you ask me about Chicago, I know Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan. It’s just that I’ve never been to places like that and I’m a big basketball guy, so I would probably know basketball.”

Morant took a diplomatic approach to the questions thrown at him. He clearly doesn’t want to say anything that might haunt him in the future. He zoomed up the prospects list in his sophomore season, averaging 24.5 PPG, 10.0 APG and 5.7 RPG while leading the Racers to the NCAA Tournament.

“I really would be happy with any team that drafts me,” Morant said. “That means they see something in me. It’s just an honor to be able to play this game at the highest level and just to be in the position that I’m in.”

Five Key Offseason Questions: Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies made the postseason for seven years in a row before a dismal 2017/18 season in which they won just 22 games. The team hoped that nosedive in the standings would be short-lived and entered the 2018/19 campaign aiming to return to the playoffs.

While Memphis rebounded to some extent, it wasn’t enough. After a 33-win showing this season, Marc Gasol has been traded to the Raptors and there’s a chance that Mike Conley will follow him out of town in the not-too-distant future.

The Grizzlies never advanced further than the Western Conference Finals with Conley and Gasol as their centerpieces. With that era coming to an end, new cornerstones Jaren Jackson and – barring a draft-day surprise – Ja Morant will be tasked with helping the organization get back to contention in the coming years.

Here are five key questions facing the franchise this summer:

1. Will the Grizzlies trade Mike Conley?

This year’s draft lottery results altered the outlook of the Grizzlies’ offseason. Halfway through the announcement of those results, we knew that the Lakers had jumped into the top four from No. 11, and it looked like the Grizzlies – who were No. 8 in the lottery standings – might not even have a first-round pick at all, since their top-eight protected first-rounder was owed to the Celtics.

Instead of landing at No. 9 though, that selection moved all the way up to No. 2. Not only do the Grizzlies still have their pick, but they’re now in great position to draft Morant, the Murray State point guard who appears to have emerged as the clear-cut top prospect behind Zion Williamson in the 2019 draft class.

With over a month until draft day, there are still a number of directions the Grizzlies could go with that pick, including trading down or choosing R.J. Barrett over Morant. But early reports suggest they’re “locked in” on Morant, so we’ll assume that’s the case. What happens with Conley now?

Having lost his longtime running mate Gasol earlier this season, Conley seemed resigned to the fact that his time in Memphis would soon be up too, and there are no shortage of possible trade partners for the Grizzlies. The Jazz, Pistons, and Pacers were said to be in the mix for the veteran at the trade deadline, and the Heat and Mavericks are among the other clubs cited as potential suitors.

If the Grizzlies favor a high draft pick, the Heat (No. 13) and Mavericks (No. 15) could be the best matches in that group. On the other hand, if they don’t get an offer to their liking, hanging onto Conley wouldn’t be the worst outcome. He’d be a great mentor for Morant, and Memphis could revisit the trade market before 2020’s deadline.

Based on the success Conley had last season, his stock may never be higher than it is right now, but the Grizzlies shouldn’t simply take whatever they can get for him if the offers this summer are underwhelming.

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Deveney’s Latest: Conley, Heat, Lakers, Celtics

With the Grizzlies reportedly zeroing in on point guard Ja Morant at No. 2 in this year’s draft, Mike Conley‘s future in Memphis appears very much up in the air.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who reported in March that the Jazz are candidates to re-engage the Grizzlies in Conley trade talks this offseason, reiterated that point this week. However, according to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, Memphis is in the market for “quality” draft picks. Utah holds the No. 23 pick and may not pick in the top 20 anytime soon, so it could be tricky for the club to entice the Grizzlies with a package.

One team to watch in the Conley sweepstakes is Miami, according to Deveney, who writes that Heat president Pat Riley has “long coveted” the veteran point guard. The Heat may not be able to draft a difference-maker at No. 13, and acquiring Conley would allow the club to avoid rolling the dice in free agency in 2020, when few impact players are expected to hit the market.

Here’s more from Deveney on Conley and a few other topics:

  • Deveney also identifies the Pacers and Mavericks as possible suitors for Conley, though Indiana’s cap flexibility may be compromised if the team decides to re-sign a few of its own free agents, making Conley’s contract undesirable.
  • Even if the Lakers can’t acquire Anthony Davis, there’s a sense that they’ll be active on the trade market, writes Deveney. The team has several potential targets in mind, with Bradley Beal at or near the top of that list, depending on whether the Wizards make him available. According to Deveney, Kyle Lowry may also be a target if the Raptors lose Kawhi Leonard in free agency and retool their roster. The Lakers like Derrick Favors too, Deveney adds. Favors could be either a free agent or trade target, depending on what the Jazz do with his $17.65MM team option.
  • There’s some skepticism that the Celtics will use all three of their first-round picks in this year’s draft (Nos. 14, 20, and 22). The type of deal(s) that Boston will pursue may depend on what they expect to happen with Kyrie Irving.

Grizzlies Meet With Ja Morant

While he seems very likely to be selected by Memphis with the No. 2 overall pick, Murray State point guard Ja Morant covered his bases at this week’s draft combine in Chicago, according to Jeremy Woo of, who reports (via Twitter) that Morant met with the Pelicans, Grizzlies, and Knicks. Those, of course, are the teams with the top three picks in this year’s draft.

Zion Williamson Not Considering Return To Duke

Since the Pelicans landed the first overall pick in Tuesday night’s draft lottery, there has been speculation that top prospect Zion Williamson may not want to play in New Orleans. That idea has prompted reporters like ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (video link) and Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) to point out that Williamson could technically decide to return to Duke before the NCAA’s May 29 withdrawal deadline for early entrants.

However, according to Williamson’s stepfather, Lee Anderson, that’s not a scenario that Zion’s camp is seriously weighing.

As Jeff Duncan of relays (via Twitter), Anderson said today in a radio appearance in Baton Rouge that Williamson is “excited about the prospect of getting down there and getting settled” in New Orleans, adding that returning to Duke “is not something that we have even considered.”

The idea of Williamson withdrawing from the draft, spending another season with the Blue Devils, and entering the 2020 draft always seemed highly unlikely. The No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft projects to earn over $9.7MM in his rookie year, so the Duke forward would have had to pass up on that salary to play for free in college for another year. It also would’ve pushed his first big NBA free agent payday back by a year.

Beyond the money aspect, there’s also no guarantee that the team landing the No. 1 pick in 2020 would be any more favorable. While New Orleans is considered a small market by NBA standards, there are certainly worse places to live and worse places to play — with Jrue Holiday under contract and a trade haul for Anthony Davis possibly on the way, it’s not as if the Pelicans’ cupboards are bare.

On top of all that, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that Williamson had a positive meeting with the Pelicans this week in Chicago at the draft combine. Prior to the lottery, Zion had cited New Orleans as one of his preferred landing spots, according to Charania, who adds that the youngster also met with the Grizzlies in Chicago.

We won’t have a clear picture of which NCAA prospects are remaining in the draft until after May 29, and the full early entry list won’t be officially announced until after the NBA’s own withdrawal deadline of June 10, but it seems pretty safe at this point to say that Williamson won’t be among those prospects pulling out of the 2019 draft pool.

Grizzlies “Locked In” On Selecting Ja Morant

In more draft news coming out of Chicago this evening, Jonathan Givony of ESPN is reporting that the Grizzlies have zeroed in on Murray State point guard Ja Morant as their pick for the No. 2 overall selection in this summer’s 2019 NBA Draft.

Memphis, still looking for a new head coach after the ousting of J.B. Bickerstaff, will look to count on Morant to join last year’s lottery selection Jaren Jackson Jr. in leading a rebuild that began with the trade of franchise cornerstone Marc Gasol earlier this year and could see Gasol’s longtime running mate Mike Conley be traded soon as well.

Last night’s runner-up finish in the lottery was a serendipitous turn of events for Memphis, who only had a 12.3% chance of landing a top-2 pick. For months now, it was rumored that the Grizzlies would have preferred to lose their pick (top-8 protected) to the Celtics, but that was under the assumption that the pick didn’t land at the top of the draft.

However, because the Grizzlies kept their 2019 pick, the Celtics now own Memphis’ 2020 first-round pick if it falls out of the top six. In other words, it may pay for Grind City to be at the bottom of league standings again next season, making it all the more likely that Conley is traded sooner rather than later.

2019 NBA Draft Picks By Team

While the Sixers and Celtics suffered disappointing losses in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and face uncertain futures, both teams can at least fall back on the fact that they’re still loaded with draft assets. Philadelphia and Boston are two of only three NBA teams – the Hawks are the other – that possess at least four picks in the 2019 NBA draft.

As our full 2019 draft order shows, there are five other teams that more than two selections in this year’s draft. On the other end of the spectrum, nine teams own just one pick in 2018, while two teams – the Nuggets and Rockets – don’t have any selections.

To present a clearer picture of which teams are most – and least – stocked with picks for the 2019 NBA draft, we’ve rounded up all 60 picks by team in the space below. Let’s dive in…

Teams with more than two picks:

  • Atlanta Hawks (5): 8, 10, 35, 41, 44
  • Philadelphia 76ers (5): 24, 33, 34, 42, 54
  • Boston Celtics (4): 14, 20, 22, 51
  • New Orleans Pelicans (3): 1, 39, 57
  • Charlotte Hornets (3): 12, 36, 52
  • Brooklyn Nets (3): 17, 27, 31
  • San Antonio Spurs (3): 19, 29, 49
  • Sacramento Kings (3): 40, 47, 60

Teams with two picks:

  • New York Knicks: 3, 55
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: 5, 26
  • Phoenix Suns: 6, 32
  • Chicago Bulls: 7, 38
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: 11, 43
  • Detroit Pistons: 15, 45
  • Orlando Magic: 16, 46
  • Indiana Pacers: 18, 50
  • Utah Jazz: 23, 53
  • Golden State Warriors: 28, 58
  • Los Angeles Clippers: 48, 56

Teams with one pick:

  • Memphis Grizzlies: 2
  • Los Angeles Lakers: 4
  • Washington Wizards: 9
  • Miami Heat: 13
  • Oklahoma City Thunder: 21
  • Portland Trail Blazers: 25
  • Milwaukee Bucks: 30
  • Dallas Mavericks: 37
  • Toronto Raptors: 59

Teams with no picks:

  • Denver Nuggets
  • Houston Rockets

Pelicans Win 2019 NBA Draft Lottery; Grizzlies, Knicks In Top 3

With Tuesday night’s lottery results now official, the top 14 picks in the 2019 NBA draft have been set. The lottery order is as follows:

  1. New Orleans Pelicans
  2. Memphis Grizzlies
  3. New York Knicks
  4. Los Angeles Lakers
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers
  6. Phoenix Suns
  7. Chicago Bulls
  8. Atlanta Hawks
  9. Washington Wizards
  10. Atlanta Hawks (from Mavericks)
  11. Minnesota Timberwolves
  12. Charlotte Hornets
  13. Miami Heat
  14. Boston Celtics (from Kings)

It’s a huge development for the Pelicans, who were facing the potential loss of franchise player Anthony Davis this offseason and only had a 6.0% chance of moving up in the draft. New head of basketball operations David Griffin will now have the opportunity to either sell Davis on staying in New Orleans by adding Duke forward Zion Williamson to play alongside him, or will be able to build around Williamson after trading AD.

The Grizzlies, meanwhile, moved up to No. 2 (6.3% chance), putting them in position to potentially select Murray State point guard Ja Morant. Mike Conley, of course, has been the longtime point guard in Memphis, but he has been the subject of trade rumors for the last several months — drafting Morant would be a terrific way to replace Conley if the Grizzlies decide to move the veteran this summer.

Because they jumped up to No. 2, the Grizzlies will keep their pick (top-eight protected) rather than sending it to Boston. Memphis will now owe the Celtics their top-six protected first-round pick in 2020.

Knicks fans will be disappointed not to land a top-two pick, but considering they only had a 40.1% chance to land a top-three selection, things could have been worse. Another Duke prospect, R.J. Barrett, is widely considered the favorite to be the third player off the board, but New York could dangle that pick in trade talks if the team wants to shift into contention mode immediately.

Another big-market team, the Lakers, jumped up to No. 4 despite only having a 9.4% chance at a top-four pick (2.8% for No. 4). The Lakers could shop that pick for immediate help this spring, since they’re in win-now mode during LeBron James‘ tenure.

The Cavaliers, Suns, Bulls, and Wizards are among the losers of the night, having each slid down three spots in the draft order. The Hawks also moved down three spots, but they’ll still pick twice in the top 10, at Nos. 8 and 10.

Atlanta will receive the Mavericks‘ selection at No. 10 as a result of last year’s Luka Doncic/Trae Young swap. The pick was top-five protected, so Dallas would have retained it if it had moved up in the lottery. The Mavs will now own their 2020 and 2022 first-round selections — they’ll owe the Knicks their 2021 first-rounder (unprotected) and their 2023 first-rounder (top-10 protected) due to the Kristaps Porzingis deal.

The Celtics, rather than the Sixers, will receive the Kings‘ pick at No. 14. The 76ers would have swapped first-rounders if that pick had moved up to No. 1, but they’ll keep their own selection instead. Sacramento now has all its first-rounders moving forward.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.