- Grizzlies star Ja Morant views Derrick Rose as a trailblazer for athletic point guards, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “He really made it to where people believe in guys like me,” Morant said after recording 27 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists in Sunday’s victory over the Knicks. “Coming in, athletic guards, I felt like he was pretty much the one who kind of made it more famous. With how acrobatic his finish is, his touch around the rim, and how explosive he was. Coming in, he was my comparison. It’s crazy to be out there on the floor sharing a court with him.”
- Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal (subscription required) spoke to orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Kenneth Jung about Desmond Bane‘s toe injury to try to get a sense of how long the recovery process might take. According to Jung, a toe sprain is the sort of injury that can flare up again if the player returns before he’s 100%, so the Grizzlies will likely play it safe with Bane’s timeline.
6:50pm: Morant is active and in the starting lineup on Tuesday, the team tweets.
10:15am: When the Grizzlies announced on Saturday that Ja Morant had been diagnosed with a Grade 1 left ankle sprain, they said he was considered “week-to-week,” signaling that he’d likely miss at least a few games. However, Morant appears to be on the verge of returning after missing only Sunday’s game in Brooklyn.
Originally listed as doubtful for Tuesday vs. Sacramento, Morant has been upgraded to questionable, the Grizzlies announced this morning (via Twitter). That doesn’t guarantee the All-NBA guard will play tonight, but it sounds like there’s a good chance he’ll do so.
If Morant doesn’t end up being activated for Tuesday’s contest, he’ll get a couple extra days off before Memphis hosts New Orleans on Friday night, so he’d be well positioned to play in that game.
With Desmond Bane sidelined due to a toe injury, Morant’s ankle sprain meant the Grizzlies were missing both parts of one of the NBA’s best backcourts on Sunday, a 12-point loss to the Nets. While Bane’s return isn’t imminent (he’s listed as out on Tuesday and will likely miss another week or two), having Morant back would be a major boon for Memphis against a Sacramento team riding a six-game win streak.
The term “poison pill” doesn’t actually show up in the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, but it’s used colloquially to refer to a provision in the CBA that affects players who recently signed rookie scale contract extensions.
As we explain in our glossary entry, the so-called poison pill provision applies when a player who signed a rookie scale extension is traded before the extension takes effect.
In that scenario, the player’s incoming value for the receiving team for matching purposes is determined by averaging his current-year salary and the salaries in each year of his new extension. His current team, on the other hand, simply treats his current-year salary as the outgoing figure for matching purposes.
For instance, Heat guard Tyler Herro is earning a $5,722,116 salary in 2022/23, but signed a four-year, $120MM extension that will begin in ’23/24. Therefore, if Miami wanted to trade Herro this season, his outgoing value for salary-matching purposes would be $5,722,116 (this year’s salary), while his incoming value for the team acquiring him would be $25,144,423 (this year’s salary, plus the $120MM extension, divided by five years).
[RELATED: 2022 NBA Rookie Scale Extension Recap]
Most of the players who signed rookie scale extensions aren’t candidates to be traded anytime soon. But even in the event that a team does want to look into trading one of these recently extended players, the gap between the player’s incoming trade value and outgoing trade value could make it a real challenge to find a deal that works for both sides.
The “poison pill” provision applies to 11 players who signed rookie scale extensions in 2022. Here are those players, along with their outgoing salaries and incoming salaries for trade purposes:
|Player||Team||Outgoing trade value||Incoming trade value
|Kevin Porter Jr.||HOU||$3,217,631||$15,234,726|
Once the 2023/24 league year begins, the poison pill provision will no longer apply to these players. At that time, the player’s ’23/24 salary would represent both his outgoing and incoming value.
Until then though, the gap between those outgoing and incoming figures will make it tricky for these players to be moved, with one or two exceptions.
The small difference between Little’s incoming and outgoing trade figures, for instance, wouldn’t be very problematic if the Blazers wanted to trade him. But the much larger divide between Poole’s incoming and outgoing numbers means there’s virtually no chance he could be moved to an over-the-cap team in 2022/23, even if the Warriors wanted to.
- The Grizzlies are counting on their depth to sustain them until Desmond Bane and Ja Morant are able to return, per Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. Bane is sidelined with a sprained toe, and Morant suffered a sprained left ankle Friday night. “It is frustrating, but it’s part of the game,” Dillon Brooks said. “We still got guys ready to play, ready to be active and have their shot. It was a tough one, but at the same time, though, next man up.”
Morant sprained the ankle on Friday night during the team’s 121-110 win against the Thunder, and needed assistance as he headed off the court and back to the team locker room. According to the Grizzlies, Morant is considered “week-to-week” at present, so it sounds like he’ll miss at least the next few games.
The 10-6 Grizzlies are now without both of their high-scoring starting guards, as shooting guard Desmond Bane is still unavailable due to his sprained big right toe.
Through 14 games, Morant has averaged 28.6 PPG with a .465/.391/.792 slash line. The 23-year-old All-NBA guard is also chipping in 7.1 APG, 6.2 RPG, and 1.1 SPG.
As Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com reports (Twitter link), Memphis posted a 20-5 record without Morant. That was due in part to the production of Bane, who will be simultaneously unavailable for at least a handful of games in this upcoming stretch.
NOVEMBER 19: There’s some hope that neither Morant’s ankle injury nor Haliburton’s is a significant one.
As Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal relays, Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke expressed optimism about whether he’d seen Morant in the locker room after the game: “He was walking. I don’t know how serious it is … It doesn’t sound super serious.”
In Houston, Haliburton told reporters – including Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star – that he isn’t overly concerned about his own ankle injury: “It feels all right right now. It’s the same ankle that I hurt against Toronto (last Saturday). I think it’s more precautionary than anything. We’ll see how it feels in the morning.”
It seems likely that Morant will miss some time, and Haliburton might too, but hopefully neither injury is one that will require a star point guard to be sidelined for a big chunk of the season.
NOVEMBER 18: A pair of rising guards suffered injuries late in the fourth quarter of victories and had to be helped off the court on Friday night.
Grizzlies star Ja Morant turned his left ankle in Friday’s win over the Thunder, per Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. According to Lang Whitaker of Grind City Media (Twitter link), head coach Taylor Jenkins said Morant “tweaked” the ankle and there will be an update on his status Saturday.
As Tim MacMahon of ESPN notes (via Twitter), Morant missed Sunday’s game against the Wizards after injuring the same ankle last week. Through 13 games, he’s averaging 29.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.2 steals for the Grizzlies.
Point guard Tyrese Haliburton also suffered a lower leg injury with less than a minute left in the Pacers‘ victory over Houston, tweets Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. It appeared as though Rockets big man Usman Garuba may have landed on Haliburton’s foot or ankle after contesting his layup.
Through 13 games in his first full season in Indiana, Haliburton is averaging 20.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, a league-leading 10.4 assists and 1.9 steals. The Pacers have been a pleasant surprise early on in the 2022/23 season, currently holding an 8-6 record.
Victor Wembanyama led France to a pair of blowout victories in this month’s World Cup qualifiers, scoring 39 total points in 48 minutes as the French team beat Lithuania by 25 points and Bosnia and Herzegovina by 36. The performances on the international stage were the latest reminder why Wembanyama is ranked atop every draft expert’s big board for 2023.
That list of draft experts includes Jonathan Givony of ESPN, who unveiled his full top-100 list for the 2023 NBA draft on Thursday, with the usual suspects (Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson) leading the way.
Givony’s initial list features Overtime Elite’s Amen Thompson at No. 3, Arkansas’ Nick Smith Jr. at No. 4, and Villanova’s Cam Whitmore at No. 5. Keyonte George, Ausar Thompson, Dillon Mitchell, Kel’el Ware, and Brandon Miller round out his top 10.
In an Insider-only story for ESPN.com, Givony also shared his impressions on this year’s Champions Classic, evaluating Duke’s Kyle Filipowski as a lottery prospect and taking a closer look at Gradey Dick‘s strong start to the season for Kansas.
- Which NBA teams have the best collection of trade assets? Yossi Gozlan and the staff at HoopsHype rank the Thunder, Pelicans, and the Grizzlies as the top three due to their impressive mix of young talent and future draft picks. On the other end of the spectrum, the Wizards are considered the team with the least valuable trade assets.
- Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today takes a look at nine players who are making an impact this season after changing teams in the summer, starting with Donovan Mitchell in Cleveland, while Frank Urbina of HoopsHype singles out nine players who appear to be taking a major leap forward, including Lauri Markkanen and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
- In his latest look around the NBA, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer considers whether the Warriors and Bulls will have to turn to the trade market this season, explores Joel Embiid‘s ongoing evolution, and highlights some of the league’s most impressive three-point shooters.
- John Hollinger of The Athletic breaks out the “panic meter” to determine how concerned we should be about some would-be contenders who are off to slow starts. Hollinger isn’t too worried about the Sixers and Clippers, but has serious reservations about the Timberwolves, Nets, and Lakers, with the Heat and Warriors falling in the middle.
He was listed as out for all previous games this season as he rehabbed from foot surgery. Jackson started playing in 5-on-5 situations during practice last week.
Jackson underwent surgery in late June for a stress fracture in his right foot. He was expected to miss four-to-six months at the time of the surgery, made steady progress in his recovery, and is now back in action four-and-a-half months after the procedure.
Jackson signed a four-year extension last fall. He’ll make $28,946,605 in the first year of the extension this season, though the salary numbers decline through the life of the deal.
His return is an obvious boost to a team already on the path to serious contention, especially with Desmond Bane expected to miss some time due to a toe injury. In 78 regular season games last season, Jackson averaged 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.
Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of his right big toe, the team announced today in a press release (Twitter link). According to the Grizzlies, Bane will be reevaluated in two-to-three weeks.
Bane, who sustained the injury in Friday’s win over Minnesota, had been off to a tremendous start in his first 12 games of the season. After increasing his scoring average from 9.2 points per game as a rookie to 18.2 PPG last season, the 24-year-old has taken another step forward in his third year, having boosted his scoring average to 24.7 PPG.
Bane is also averaging career highs in RPG (4.9), APG (4.8), and 3PT% (.451), among other categories. His career three-point rate is now up to 43.6%.
The Grizzlies have a +9.2 net rating when Bane is on the court this season, compared to a -9.7 mark when he sits, which is the biggest disparity of anyone on the roster. In other words, replacing him while he recovers won’t be easy.
Still, Memphis is on the verge of getting some lineup reinforcements, as Jaren Jackson Jr. is expected to make his regular season debut on Tuesday following offseason foot surgery. Jackson is listed as questionable for tonight’s game, but plans to suit up, per Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Ja Morant – who missed Sunday’s game due to an ankle injury – is not on the team’s injury report and also should be available.