Derrick Rose

Grizzlies Notes: Morant, Rose, Draft Pick, Kennard, More

Although the Grizzlies dealt with a ton of injuries this season, particularly down the stretch, there aren’t many long-term concerns among that group of injured players, according to head of basketball operations Zach Kleiman, who told reporters today that Ja Morant (right shoulder surgery) is the only one expected to have more than a month of recovery time, per Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“I would say he is expected to be fully cleared for basketball activities maybe halfway through the offseason,” Kleiman said of Morant, who is expected to be in Memphis rehabbing for most of the summer. “… He’s been very diligent with his work. He’s been around the team pouring into that everyday.”

Another Grizzlies point guard who missed much of the 2023/24 season for health reasons, Derrick Rose said on Monday that he has no plans to retire and expects to be back in Memphis next season, according to Cole. Rose is under contract for a guaranteed salary worth approximately $3.4MM.

“Yes, I’m coming back,” Rose said. “I talked to Zach, I talked to coach (Taylor Jenkins). … This summer, it’s all about attacking my rehabs, my workouts and continuing to be disciplined.”

The Grizzlies signed Rose and traded for Marcus Smart last summer, envisioning the veteran guards serving as mentors and veteran leaders for Morant during and following his 25-game suspension. However, Rose appeared in just 24 games, Smart played in 20, and Morant suited up for only nine.

Here’s more out of Memphis:

  • While the Grizzlies used Jaren Jackson Jr. at the five frequently this season and will likely continue to do so, Kleiman wasn’t coy about the fact that Memphis intends to add at least one center to its roster this offseason, according to Cole. “I envision we’ll add at least one big,” he said. “Whether that’s a starting big or a rotation big, I think we have some work to do on the roster there. … We’re not trying to hide the ball on that.” The Grizzlies traded away centers Steven Adams and Xavier Tillman at February’s deadline.
  • Memphis projects to have a top-10 pick in this year’s draft, but hasn’t decided yet whether it will keep or trade that first-rounder, Cole writes. “I think we’re going to be open-minded on what we can do with that pick,” Kleiman said. Obviously, no decisions will be made until sometime after May’s lottery, since the team’s plans for a No. 1 or No. 8 overall pick could look very different.
  • Kleiman was noncommittal on the Grizzlies’ plans for Luke Kennard, whose contract includes a 2024/25 team option worth about $14.8MM. “Luke is someone we continue to feel strongly about,” Kleiman said. “Someone who is important for this team and this NBA. We have decisions that we have to make on him coming up.”
  • As Cole relays, Kleiman lauded second-year shooting guard Vince Williams for what he provided the Grizzlies this season and said Williams will be an important part of the club’s plans going forward: “He is someone that we have confidence in to play a significant role. He can play different kinds of roles, but it will be significant next season.”

Grizzlies’ Derrick Rose, Ziaire Williams Unlikely To Return This Season

Injured Grizzlies point guard Derrick Rose and forward Ziaire Williams aren’t expected to return to action this season, according to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Rose, who last played on February 28, has been sidelined due to right groin issue and lower back recovery. Williams hasn’t suited up since March 2 due to a lower back injury of his own, as well as a hip flexor strain.

“They’re doing well,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said on Friday. “Most likely they’re not going to be coming back by the end of the season. We’re just kind of taking it day to day.”

As Cole notes, Ja Morant is the only Grizzlies player who has officially been ruled out for the rest of the season. There also has been no indication that Marcus Smart (finger) is on track to play again this spring. However, the team isn’t simply shutting down all of its injured players despite its 24-49 record.

Brandon Clarke made his season debut on Wednesday after spending more than a year recovering from an Achilles tear. Memphis also remains hopeful that Vince Williams (knee) and John Konchar (heel) will play again before the regular season concludes on April 14, says Cole.

The banged-up Grizzlies have qualified for multiple hardship exceptions in recent weeks due to all their injuries. If Morant, Rose, Williams, and Smart are the only four players they don’t expect back in the season’s final two weeks, they’ll only qualify for a single hardship exception going forward, giving them the ability to carry one extra player rather than two.

Grizzlies’ Ziaire Williams, Derrick Rose To Miss Multiple Weeks

Grizzlies wing Ziaire Williams and point guard Derrick Rose will be sidelined for the next several weeks due to injuries, the team announced today in a press release (Twitter link).

Williams, who suffered his injury on Saturday vs. Portland, has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 strain of hip flexor and low back muscles. According to the team, he’ll be reevaluated in four weeks.

Rose, meanwhile, exited last Wednesday’s game in Minnesota early due to low back and groin soreness. He has been diagnosed with right osteitis pubis (joint inflammation) and will be reevaluated in three weeks, per the Grizzlies.

Williams and Rose are two of the many Grizzlies players who have been hampered by health issues this season. Williams has averaged 8.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 20.5 minutes per game across 51 contests, while Rose has been limited to just 24 appearances. He has averaged 8.0 PPG, 3.3 APG, and 1.9 RPG in 16.6 MPG in those games.

While neither player has been ruled out for the season, there are less than six weeks left to play, so it wouldn’t be shocking if either one is shut down. Their multi-week absences could open the door for the Grizzlies to sign more players to 10-day hardship contracts for depth purposes. Currently, Matthew Hurt is on a 10-day hardship deal.

Looking beyond this season, Williams is under contract for $6.13MM in 2024/25 and will be extension-eligible as of July 1, while Rose holds a $3.36MM player option for ’24/25, which he’ll likely exercise. However, neither player is a lock to be on Memphis’ roster next year, given their relatively modest contributions in ’23/24 and the fact that they’ll be on expiring deals.

Grizzlies Notes: Adams, Bane, V. Williams, Gasol, Rose

Addressing the trade of veteran center Steven Adams, who was sent to Houston for Victor Oladipo and three second-round picks, Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins cited “flexibility” as a key reason for making the deal, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Big-time thanks to (Adams),” Jenkins said. “Opportunities come throughout the league. We got to make some decisions. Obviously we’re excited about the flexibility it creates for us. … The impact (Adams) made was a big one for us. Obviously we’re going to miss him. Hopefully he gets healthy. He’s been working really hard in his rehab. He had a huge impact not just on the floor, but also in the locker room.”

As Jenkins alluded to, Adams is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery, though he’s expected to make a full recovery prior to 2024/25.

It will be difficult to find a long-term replacement for Adams’ unique skill set (bruising screener, elite offensive rebounder, solid passer). According to Cole, Jenkins said playing Jaren Jackson Jr. more at center is one option for Memphis going forward, but the team will look at “different avenues” as well.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Fourth-year guard Desmond Bane has been out about three weeks with a severe left ankle sprain and is expected to miss at least three more. On Thursday, Jenkins said Bane has been doing individual on-court work and movement shooting. “He’s hungry to get back and beat the timeline,” Jenkins said, per Cole (Twitter link).
  • While the Grizzlies have had a “wild, wayward” season thus far, one bright spot has been the play of second-year wing Vince Williams, according to Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian (subscriber link). A 2022 second-round pick (47th overall) who was on a two-way deal with Memphis before being promoted to a standard contract, Williams has been an “unlikely revelation” in 2023/24, Herrington writes. The 23-year-old only played 105 minutes in 15 games last season, but has been thrust into a major role due to the team’s lengthy injury list. In 12 January games (32.7 MPG), he played exceptionally well, averaging 14.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 3.3 APG and 1.3 SPG on .509/.469/.780 shooting.
  • Memphis announced in a press release that it will retire Marc Gasol‘s No. 33 jersey on April 6, following a game vs. Philadelphia. Gasol, a three-time All-Star for the Grizzlies and the 2012/13 Defensive Player of the Year, recently retired as a player. He spent more than 10 seasons with Memphis and holds numerous team records. Gasol’s former teammate, Zach Randolph, is the only other player to have his jersey retired by the Grizzlies.
  • Veteran point guard Derrick Rose returned to action on Friday after missing the past month with a left hamstring strain, Cole tweets. Rose finished with 12 points and four assists in 16 minutes in Friday’s loss to Golden State.

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Kyrie, Lively, Rose, Champagnie

Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd was a part of the 2010/11 Dallas team that won the NBA Finals, but he has already seen enough from Luka Doncic to place him ahead of that year’s Finals MVP – Dirk Nowitzki – on the franchise’s list of all-time best players.

“He’s better than Dirk,” Kidd said of Doncic during a Tuesday radio appearance on 97.1 The Freak (story via Tim MacMahon of ESPN). “He’s in the atmosphere of MJ (Michael Jordan), the best to ever do it, LeBron (James), Kobe (Bryant). And so, just to appreciate what this young man’s doing at the age of 24, (it) is something that Dallas has never seen. I’ve said this internally: He is better than Dirk. He does things that Dirk could never do, and now is the opportunity of getting the right people around him to ultimately win a championship.”

Kidd made his comments in the wake of a record-setting run from Doncic, who followed up a 73-point outburst on Friday with a 17-assist triple-double on Saturday and a 45-point, 15-assist, nine-rebound performance on Monday.

Doncic is now averaging 34.7 points per game this season, far exceeding Nowitzki’s career high of 26.6 PPG in 2005/06. Of course, as MacMahon points out, Luka’s playoff accomplishments fall far short of Nowitzki’s, let alone those of Jordan, James, and Bryant — the Mavs have only advanced beyond the first round once during Doncic’s time in Dallas. However, Kidd is confident that it’s just a matter of time until that changes.

“This young man is 24 and is breaking all the records that stand in front of him,” Kidd said. “He’s a winner, and his ultimate goal is to win a championship. And he will get there and not just win one, but he will win multiple when it’s all said and done.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Kyrie Irving (right thumb sprain) will miss a fifth straight game for the Mavericks on Wednesday in Minnesota, according to the official injury report. The banged-up Mavs will be down two more starters besides Irving, with Doncic (right ankle sprain) and Dereck Lively II (broken nose) also having been ruled out.
  • Grizzlies point guard Derrick Rose is nearing a return from the left hamstring strain that has sidelined him for nearly a full month, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Rose, who hasn’t played since January 2, is participating in five-on-five work and is in the “latter stages” of his recovery, per head coach Taylor Jenkins. The hope is that he’ll be able to return within Memphis’ next three games.
  • As Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required) details, Julian Champagnie was inserted into the Spurs‘ starting lineup last month and has hung onto that spot for the past 20 games by following some simple advice from head coach Gregg Popovich: “Don’t be Kobe.” Popovich wanted to see the second-year forward blend in with the rest of the starters and not try to do too much — so far, so good. “Fitting in is pretty easy, you know?,” Champagnie said. “Just stick to my role, hit open shots, play defense, play hard.”

Western Notes: Watson, Lakers, Nance, Rose

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone made a late decision to start Peyton Watson in place of injured forward Aaron Gordon on Thursday and the second-year wing responded in a major way, scoring a career-high 20 points and making four three-pointers as Memphis gave him room on the perimeter, as Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post details.

“They didn’t guard him early but he stayed with it and he didn’t lose confidence,” Malone said. “That can mess with you, but I thought Peyton did a really good job. I think he knows we have faith and confidence in him, and let’s be honest, Peyton Watson knows he’s a huge part of our future.”

Bennett Durando of The Denver Post (Twitter link) referred to it as a “statement decision” by Malone to insert Watson into the starting five over Justin Holiday, who had started the previous four games that Gordon missed.

Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link) adds that the club had planned to approach that spot in the lineup on a game-by-game basis until Gordon gets healthy, but suggests Watson may have earned the role going forward with his performance on Thursday.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • After linking Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale to the Lakers in the offseason, Jovan Buha of The Athletic said this week in an episode of Hoops Tonight (YouTube link) that Los Angeles still has trade interest in the two Nets forwards. NetsDaily passes along Buha’s comments and explores whether a deal between the two teams is realistic.
  • Ankle, groin, and rib injuries sapped Larry Nance Jr. of much of his athleticism earlier in the season, but the Pelicans big man is now feeling as good as he has “in years,” he tells Christian Clark of Nance, who played on Thursday for the first time since November 27, pointed to a dunk over Walker Kessler as an example of the type of play he wasn’t making a month or two ago. “It just felt good to get back to who I am,” Nance said. “Earlier in the season, I would have got that drop-off and tried to throw up some B.S. hook or some floater. I can make it. But that’s not who I am. That’s not what this team needs from me.”
  • Grizzlies guard Derrick Rose is loving being back in Memphis after spending a single college season with the Memphis Tigers 16 years ago, writes Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. Rose and his family had never bought a home in any of the cities he previously played in, but they did so in Memphis this year, with the 35-year-old hoping to stick around for the foreseeable future. “When I did leave (after college), I always wished that I stayed a little bit longer,” Rose said. “That’s crazy, like all the times we’ve had chances to purchase spots and our first purchase was in Memphis.”

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Doncic, Exum, Rose

The Pelicans heated up on their latest road swing, writes Christian Clark of New Orleans has gone 3-0 on its latest mini-road trip, and is currently riding a four-game win streak overall. The team returns home Tuesday, for a bout against Memphis.

“The guys are buying into what we are asking them to do,” head coach Willie Green said. “We are staying with it. We are trusting it. We are showing them the pictures when we watch film. We are getting on the floor and going over it again and again. Expressing to them how important it is to play with force, play with pace. Continue to share the ball. Just make the simple plays over and over again.”

New Orleans is currently 16-11 overall on the season. In the crowded West, that record is good for the conference’s seventh seed.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • All-NBA Mavericks guard Luka Doncic has been performing at an MVP level this year, opines Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Doncic has steered Dallas to a 16-9 start on the year. His 32.7 points per game rank second in the league, and his 9.1 assists per game place him fourth. He was just named the West’s Player of the Week for his most recent four-game run, in which he averaged 36.8 PPG, 11.5 APG and 8.0 RPG while helped the Mavericks go 3-1.
  • Mavericks guard Dante Exum has emerged as a critical running mate for Doncic this season, writes Tim Cato of The Athletic“He knows how to play,” Dallas head coach Jason Kidd said. “He’s not judged on his scoring. He’s judged on doing the right thing.” Exum returned to the NBA this season after a two-year stint overseas. While starting the past six contests for Dallas, Exum has been averaging 30.8 minutes per night. Cato applauds the way Exum’s game fits in the Mavericks’ heliocentric offense around Doncic. “We try to attack personnel here (and) it’s working for us, it’s an advantage for us,” Exum said. “If it hasn’t worked for a couple plays, just getting the ball and saying, ‘Alright, getting guys connected, organized into an offense,’ that’s what I can do.”
  • After departing a 103-96 loss to the Rockets on Friday with left hamstring tightness, Grizzlies reserve guard Derrick Rose is considered week-to-week going forward, reports Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal (Twitter link). When healthy, Rose has been a solid bench contributor for an injury- and suspension-depleted Memphis club, averaging 9.1 PPG (.438/.344/.905 shooting), 3.5 APG and 2.0 RPG in just 18.9 MPG.

Southwest Notes: Zion, Spurs, Popovich, Rose

Throughout his NBA career, Zion Williamson has been criticized for his weight, his effort level and especially for his inability to stay on the court. Pelicans teammate Jose Alvarado tells Christian Clark of that Williamson is aware of the criticism and is trying to find ways to channel it into something positive.

“He learned,” Alvarado said. “He’s young still. We got his back. So it don’t matter about all that other stuff. But he hears it. He’s human. We (are) all human. We all in the generation of going on our phones and stuff is going to pop up. He’s responding. That’s a 23-year-old responding to the whole world telling him something he don’t want to hear. Like I said, it’s whatever. We’ve got his back. We tell him. We told him what he needed to hear. All the other stuff, I feel like was pretty unnecessary.”

Williamson became an easy target after New Orleans was embarrassed by the Lakers during the in-season tournament semifinals. Clark notes that TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal said Williamson “does not run hard,” and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith called him “fat.” Alvarado said the team has rallied behind Williamson to help him deal with the outside barbs.

“He’s human,” Alvarado said. “He heard all that noise about that game in L.A. One thing about it: We can get on him. But the whole world, they trying to push him to be great. Obviously, we appreciate that. But f–k all that negative towards him. He’s a human being.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • There was a mixture of relief and celebration as the Spurs ended their nightmarish 18-game losing streak by beating the Lakers Friday night, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN. Devin Vassell poured in a career-high 36 points in San Antonio’s first victory since November 2. “A hundred percent it didn’t feel like a normal win,” Vassell said. “You see people jumping around on the sideline and everything. … I’m trying to stay composed. But at the end of the day, it’s special. This is a special group.”
  • Coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t expect the Spurs to pursue a major trade to turn the season around, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “Our focus is not immediate other than individual development and team concepts,” Popovich said. “But if there’s a trade that would make sense both now and for long-term, of course, we look at it. (General manager) Brian Wright and his guys are probably doing that already.”
  • Hamstring soreness forced Grizzlies guard Derrick Rose to leave Friday’s game, the team tweeted. Rose, who has helped the team weather Ja Morant‘s suspension, managed to play only about eight minutes.

Southwest Notes: Valanciunas, Zion, Popovich, Grizzlies

In an interview with Mark Medina of Sportskeeda, Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas says he’s seen a change in Zion Williamson this season. Williamson’s NBA career so far has been marked by tantalizing talent and an inability to stay on the court. He played just 114 combined games in four years, including 29 last season.

Williamson has pledged to take better care of himself and condition his body to handle the rigors of an NBA season. Valanciunas is convinced that Williamson is fully committed to keeping that promise, and he’s been proving it to his teammates.

“He’s been great. He’s been available all of the time,” Valanciunas said. “He’s taking care of his body. He gives a [expletive]. That is a big thing. He’s been a pro this year. He’s growing. He’s getting more experience. Every time that he steps on the court, he does stuff. It’s not going to be overnight. You have to see it all to get the experience, and he does that. He’s willing to learn and willing to give everything. What else can you ask?”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Williamson is sitting out tonight’s contest in Utah as the Pelicans continue to avoid using him in back-to-backs, tweets Christian Clark of NOLA. Williamson logged 34 minutes Friday night as New Orleans defeated the Clippers in a tournament game.
  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t regret grabbing a microphone Wednesday and imploring fans to stop booing Kawhi Leonard, per Janie McCauley of The Associated Press. “It’s pretty easy to understand,” Popovich told reporters Friday. “I listened to it for a while and it just got louder and louder and uglier and uglier, and I felt sorry for him, and I was embarrassed for our city, for our organization.” The crowd’s defiance of Popovich’s request shows there are limits to his influence, contends Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News, who suggests the response stems from the Spurs’ poor record and Popovich’s outspoken political statements.
  • The Grizzlies believe their struggles go beyond Ja Morant‘s suspension and injuries to several key players, according to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. After Friday’s loss at Phoenix, Derrick Rose called for the team to increase its focus on defense, while Desmond Bane sought a return to basketball fundamentals. “It’s just a commitment that we’re going to have to make 1 through 15,” Bane said. “Everybody on the floor has an obligation to get out and run, share the ball and whenever opportunities are there, be aggressive. If they’re not there, swing it to the open teammate. It’s a pretty simple game.”

Grizzlies’ Marcus Smart Out 3-5 Weeks With Foot Sprain

Grizzlies guard Marcus Smart is expected to miss three-to-five weeks after being diagnosed with a left foot sprain, the team announced in a press release (via Twitter).

Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) first reported that Smart is expected to miss multiple weeks as a result of the injury, which occurred during Tuesday’s loss to the Lakers. Smart left the game in the first quarter after landing on Austin Reaves‘ foot while contesting a shot (Twitter video link via Bally Sports).

Smart, 29, was acquired in a three-team trade this offseason that involved Boston and Washington. The 2021/22 Defensive Player of the Year is averaging 12.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 steals on .429/.295/.810 shooting in 11 games this season (29.9 minutes per night).

It’s a tough blow for the Grizzlies, who won 50-plus games each of the past two seasons but are currently 2-9 and rank last in the Western Conference. Injuries and a suspension have played a major part in that, and losing Smart certainly won’t help matters.

Luke Kennard also left Tuesday’s game early after sustaining a left knee bone bruise, and he has been ruled out for Saturday’s game in San Antonio (Twitter link via the Grizzlies). The sharpshooting guard led the NBA in three-point percentage the past two seasons.

The Grizzlies are particularly shorthanded at point guard, with Ja Morant out for the first 25 games of 2023/24 after being suspended multiple times in the past year. Derrick Rose has also been out since October 30 due to a left knee injury, but he’s officially listed as questionable for Saturday’s game, so he may be back soon.

The frontcourt is another area of the roster that has been decimated by injuries. Steven Adams is out for the year after undergoing season-ending knee surgery, while Brandon Clarke figures to remain on the shelf for most of the season after tearing his Achilles tendon in March. Xavier Tillman has missed four of the past five games with a left knee injury, and he’s out Saturday as well.

For what it’s worth, the Grizzlies could qualify for a second extra roster spot via a hardship exception, but that would require four players to have missed at least three consecutive games due to an injury or illness, with an expectation they’d remain sidelined for some time beyond those three games, and they don’t meet that criteria right now. Bismack Biyombo currently occupies the first extra spot after Morant was placed on the suspended list.

Two-way player Jacob Gilyard, a 5’9″ point guard, has started the past three games for Memphis and will likely continue to receive extended run until the Grizzlies get more reinforcements back.