Desmond Bane

Southwest Notes: Morant, JJJ, Bane, G. Williams, Mavs, Williamson

A Tennessee judge ruled Monday that Grizzlies star Ja Morant properly raised self-defense in a lawsuit filed by a teenager he punched in July 2022, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes reports. The altercation occurred during a pickup game at Morant’s home.

The judge ruled the Grizzlies’ guard “enjoys a presumption of civil immunity” under Tennessee’s self-defense immunity statute and that the burden of proof shifts to his accuser, Joshua Holloway, whose legal team must prove that Morant didn’t act in self-defense. A trial had been scheduled for late April, Holmes writes, but is now expected to be pushed back to a later date.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said there’s a “good chance” Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane won’t play again this season, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal tweets. Jackson’s current injury is listed as right quad tendonitis, while Bane has a lumbar disc bulge. Both Jackson (22.5 points per game) and Bane (23.7) are averaging career highs in scoring.
  • Hornets forward Grant Williams says he has harbors no ill will toward the Mavericks for trading him after Dallas added him in a sign-and-trade last offseason, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News tweets. “No hard feelings on my end or, I think, their end,” he said. “We communicated well throughout the process. (Dallas GM) Nico (Harrison), I respect those guys a lot from an honesty perspective.”
  • Even Mavericks teammates marvel at the ability of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, according to The Athletic’s Tim Cato. “I never play NBA 2K, so I don’t know if there’s a self-created player who does stuff like they do,” Maxi Kleber said. “But it’s just incredible what they do.”
  • Pelicans forward Zion Williamson took note that teams were seeking him out defensively and he’s playing harder at that end of the floor, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune said. “The other teams were trying to hunt me on defense,” Williamson said. “I was watching the film, and I didn’t like that.” Williamson had five blocks against Phoenix on Sunday.

Southwest Notes: Irving, Bane, Collins, Rockets

Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving hit a remarkable game-winner on Sunday against Denver (YouTube link), converting a left-handed floater/hook shot over Nikola Jokic as time expired. The game was tied prior to Irving’s heroics, with impressive back-and-forth shot-making from both teams in the final two minutes.

According to Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com, Irving’s teammates lavished praise on the eight-time All-Star after the game.

Unbelievable, man,” Luka Doncic said. “I don’t think people realize how tough of a shot that is. With the off-hand, like even to have a chance. I don’t think I have seen anything that special.”

I’ve seen a lot of great shots, but I think that one takes the cake,” added Dereck Lively.

Irving discussed the shot and the challenges of playing during Ramadan at his post-game media session (YouTube link via ESPN).

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Grizzlies guard/forward Desmond Bane, who returned to action on Saturday after missing two-plus months with a Grade 3 left ankle sprain, recently sat down for an interview with Michael Wallace of Grind City Media (Twitter video link via the team). Bane said he’s still trying to regain his conditioning after a lengthy absence. He also discussed Memphis’ young players and the team’s motivation for the rest of the season.
  • Spurs backup center Zach Collins has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol, tweets Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News, who notes that the 26-year-old “took a spill” in Sunday’s overtime victory over Brooklyn. In a related move, the Spurs have recalled big man Dominick Barlow from a G League assignment ahead of Tuesday’s game vs. Dallas (Twitter link via McDonald).
  • It’s a small sample size (three games), but the Rockets have been playing well without third-year center Alperen Sengun, who is likely out for the season with ankle and knee injuries, by playing at a faster pace, spacing the floor and crashing the glass with smaller lineups, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). Rookie guard/forward Amen Thompson has been inserted into the starting lineup at power forward and he’s averaging 14.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.0 APG and 1.7 SPG while shooting 76% from the floor in the three victories (25.4 MPG). “Being small but how fast we are, defensive rebounding, we are able to push the pace, outrun every team,” Thompson said. “That’s really what’s happened. Just push it up and get a lot of fast breaks.”

Southwest Notes: Wembanyama, Rockets, Pippen, Bane, Clarke

Spurs rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama looked like he was hitting the so-called “rookie wall” early in February when he posted a 5-of-16 performance and a 15-point, one-rebound game within days of each other, ESPN’s Andrew Lopez writes. However, Wembanyama shut down all talk about any potential slump when he put up a triple-double with blocks against the Raptors just before the All-Star break.

Since then, he’s had one of the finest stretches of his young career, averaging 22.5 points, 11.7 boards, 4.9 assists and 4.9 blocks in his last 11 games. Lopez writes that Wembanyama is focused on ending the season on a high note.

How important is it? It’s the whole point,” Wembanyama said. “Coach said it again tonight in the locker room. It’s our job and this is what we’re here for, to win as soon as possible but also in the long run. So there is no other option.

In the past month, Wembanyama has posted that aforementioned triple-double, recorded a 5×5, and is on pace to lead the league in blocks. Lopez writes his teammates have become used to his absurd stat lines.

There’s still moments where we’re like, ‘Oh, what was that? We ain’t never seen that before.’ But I think overall, we’ve seen so much of what he’s done and what he can become and what he is going to become that it’s kind of normal for us now,” teammate Jeremy Sochan said.We just know he can do way more than he’s doing right now, and what he’s doing right now is unbelievable.

According to Lopez, there are no plans to shut down Wembanyama for the rest of the season even though the Spurs have nothing to play for after being eliminated from postseason contention.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets bench players Reggie Bullock, Jock Landale and Jae’Sean Tate are embracing a next-man up mentality after recent injuries to Cam Whitmore and Alperen Sengun, writes Houston Chronicle’s Danielle Lerner. “We talk every day. We just talk about opportunity,” Bullock said of discussions between him, Landale and Tate. “We know that we are the guys that need to be able to step up with guys that’ve been out, and we all got that same mindset of going out and take whatever needs to be done to help the team win.” All three players saw a spike in playing time on Tuesday against San Antonio.
  • After being out since Feb. 12 with an injury, Grizzlies two-way guard Scotty Pippen Jr. returned to the lineup on Wednesday against Charlotte. He scored nine points and 10 assists in his return. As Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Damichael Cole observes (Twitter link), due to the amount of time he missed with injury, the Grizzlies don’t have to worry about Pippen hitting his games played limit per his two-way deal and will likely lean on him moving forward. Pippen was eligible to be active for up to 26 games after signing his two-way on Jan. 16 and the Grizzlies played 27 times since then, so he wouldn’t have been eligible for all of their games anyway.
  • Key Grizzlies players Desmond Bane and Brandon Clarke did some “extensive” work this week with Memphis’ G League affiliate, the Hustle, according to Cole (Twitter link). Clarke is now back to playing five-on-five after suffering an Achilles injury last season. Cole expects Bane to be back within the next couple games and Clarke to be back before the end of the month.

Desmond Bane Close To Returning From Ankle Injury

Grizzlies high-scoring guard Desmond Bane is close to returning from a Grade 3 left ankle sprain, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports.

Bane has been doing three-on-three basketball activities the past two weeks and progressed to five-on-five in recent days. He could return to action as early as this weekend.

“He’s working really hard, so I envision in a couple games here, he’s back in the lineup,” coach Taylor Jenkins said.

Bane was in the midst of a career year prior to the injury, averaging 24.4 points, 5.3 assists and 4.6 rebounds in 37 games. He suffered the injury during a Jan. 12 game against the Clippers.

In the last update from the team on Feb. 22, Bane’s timetable was listed at three-to-five weeks.

Brandon Clarke, who suffered a torn left Achilles tendon last March, will start five-on-five workouts this weekend with hopes of getting some game action before the season ends.

“Really encouraged by all the signs he’s been showing,” Jenkins said. “He’s on schedule. We’re hopeful sometime maybe at the end of the month he’s in a Grizzlies uniform.”

Clarke is in the first year of a four-year, $52MM extension he signed in 2022.

Grizzlies’ Bane, Smart To Remain Out For Multiple Weeks

The Grizzlies will continue to be without guards Desmond Bane and Marcus Smart for several more weeks, the team announced in a press release.

Bane is progressing well from a Grade 3 left ankle sprain he suffered on Jan. 12 game against the Clippers. He is expected to return to play during the next three-to-five weeks, per the Grizzlies.

Bane was in the midst of a career year prior to the injury, averaging 24.4 points, 5.3 assists and 4.6 rebounds in 37 games.

Smart, who sustained a left finger/hand injury during a Jan. 9 game against the Mavericks, will continue to wear a splint for another three weeks, per that club. He will be reevaluated at that three-week mark.

Acquired from the Celtics during the offseason, Smart is averaging 14.5 points and 4.3 assists in 20 starts with Memphis.

The injury-ravaged Grizzlies return Friday from the All-Star break with a 20-36 mark, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Smart is eventually shut down.

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Jackson, Udoka, Wembanyama

The Grizzlies aren’t ready to shut down any of their players, but Mark Giannotto of The Commercial Appeal questions whether that’s a sound strategy. Before Memphis ended its nine-game losing streak Wednesday night, coach Taylor Jenkins told reporters that the team will bring back as many injured players as it can over the season’s final two months.

“We’re actively preparing and training these guys as if they are playing,” Jenkins said. “We haven’t had any conversations about shutting down guys. This is a competitive bunch.”

Injuries have made this a nightmarish season for the Grizzlies, who were one of the West’s top teams the past two years. Players such as Desmond Bane and Marcus Smart could still return, but Giannotto believes it’s wiser for the organization to hold them out to avoid any further injury risk while seeing what the team’s young talent can do after the All-Star break.

Giannotto notes that general manager Zach Kleiman didn’t offer any timeline for Bane or Smart in a news conference last week, but he indicated that it might be beneficial for Brandon Clarke to see some action when he’s cleared to return from an Achilles tear he suffered last season.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies rookie GG Jackson called it a “joyful experience” as his two-way contract was converted to a new four-year deal last week, per Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. The second-round pick has excelled as the team’s injuries have given him an unexpected chance to play big minutes, and he had been hoping to land a standard contract. “I kind of had a feeling with the way everything has been panning out, but I tried to keep the main thing with basketball,” Jackson said. “But nonetheless, I’m grateful.”
  • Rockets coach Ime Udoka said lineup changes may be necessary following Wednesday’s loss at Memphis, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Houston faced an early 23-point deficit as its pattern of slow starts continued. Jalen Green sat out the entire fourth quarter for the second time in four games, and Feigen notes that little-used Nate Hinton played more second half minutes than Green did. “Maybe I have to look at the rotation and the lineup I have out there starting and try to get five competitors out the court at one time to avoid poor starts like that,” Udoka said. “I will look at all of that over the break, look in the mirror myself and figure out the best way to move forward to get us off to better starts.”
  • Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press previews what Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama can expect as he prepares for his first All-Star Weekend.

Grizzlies Notes: Deadline Moves, Bane, Smart, Clarke, Jackson

Victor Oladipo and Chimezie Metu have already been waived, but the two other players acquired by the Grizzlies in their recent series of tradesLamar Stevens and Yuta Watanabe – are expected to get an opportunity to play over the next couple months, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Stevens is on an expiring deal, while Watanabe holds a minimum-salary player option for 2024/25.

The Grizzlies also hope to get a longer look down the stretch at Ziaire Williams and Jake LaRavia, two former first-round picks who are currently sidelined due to injuries. As Cole writes, head of basketball operations Zach Kleiman showed by trading David Roddy on Thursday that he’s willing to move on from recent first-rounders who haven’t established themselves as consistent, productive rotation contributors, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to give up on players like Williams or LaRavia.

“We’re in a spot where we have a lot of young players,” Kleiman said. “Nothing has been ruled out. Let me say that. I think that everyone at the very least has shown that in stretches, there’s a lot to be encouraged by. What we’re focused on right now is giving those guys opportunity. Wouldn’t surprise me if some guys emerge and maybe surprise people.”

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Having traded away Steven Adams and Xavier Tillman, the Grizzlies’ plans at center going forward are unclear. Their 2024 first-round pick, which projects to be a top-10 selection, may factor into that equation, Cole notes, since it could serve as a valuable trade asset or an opportunity to add a young blue-chipper to the roster. “Wherever that pick might be, we want to be in a position where we’re able to kind of navigate and steer that in different directions,” Kleiman said.
  • The Grizzlies project to be a luxury tax team next season based on their current commitments. Kleiman told reporters, including Cole, that’s not something the club is actively working to avoid. “There’s not a budget that we have to operate from,” Kleiman said. “There’s not a place that we need to be relative to any marker or luxury tax. . . . Those are all things we’ll have to weigh from a team-building standpoint.”
  • There’s still no timeline for the returns of Desmond Bane (left ankle), Marcus Smart (right ring finger), or Brandon Clarke (left Achilles), according to Kleiman. He indicate that Bane and Smart are expected to be out at least through the All-Star break and expressed optimism Clarke can return this season. “Brandon’s doing really well in his recovery,” Kleiman said, per Cole. “We’ll make a determination when we get a little bit closer. . . . Regardless of record, a little cameo at the end of the season just to build momentum going into next season, I think that’s something that’s potentially still on the table.”
  • As Jonah Dylan of The Memphis Commercial Appeal details, the Grizzlies players who remained on the roster through Thursday’s trade deadline were sorry to see Tillman and Roddy go. “I’m obviously upset and gutted and I feel bad,” said Jaren Jackson Jr., who played with Tillman at Michigan State before spending the past four seasons with him in Memphis. “It’s just part of the business. I’ve been here a long time. But it doesn’t get easier, for sure.”
  • GG Jackson‘s new four-year deal with the Grizzlies will be worth $8.5MM over four seasons, with $6.1MM in guaranteed money, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. A minimum-salary deal would be worth in the range of $7MM, so it sounds like Jackson will receive significantly more than the prorated rookie minimum for the rest of the 2023/24 season.

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.

Team USA Announces 41-Player Pool For 2024 Olympics

USA Basketball has officially announced a pool of 41 players who are in the mix for the 12 spots on the 2024 Olympic men’s basketball team.

While the pool is subject to change, Team USA’s 12-man roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics will, in all likelihood, be made up of players from this group.

The list figures to shrink as the summer nears due to players suffering injuries or opting not to participate for other reasons, but at some point prior to the July event the U.S. decision-makers will have to choose a final roster from the remaining candidates.

Here’s the full list of 41 players, 28 of whom have represented Team USA in a previous World Cup or Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers)
  3. Paolo Banchero (Magic)
  4. Desmond Bane (Grizzlies)
  5. Scottie Barnes (Raptors)
  6. Devin Booker (Suns)
  7. Mikal Bridges (Nets)
  8. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  9. Jalen Brunson (Knicks)
  10. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  11. Alex Caruso (Bulls)
  12. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  13. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Suns)
  15. Anthony Edwards (Timberwolves)
  16. Joel Embiid (Sixers)
  17. De’Aaron Fox (Kings)
  18. Paul George (Clippers)
  19. Aaron Gordon (Nuggets)
  20. Tyrese Haliburton (Pacers)
  21. James Harden (Clippers)
  22. Josh Hart (Knicks)
  23. Tyler Herro (Heat)
  24. Jrue Holiday (Celtics)
  25. Chet Holmgren (Thunder)
  26. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  27. Kyrie Irving (Mavericks)
  28. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Grizzlies)
  29. LeBron James (Lakers)
  30. Cameron Johnson (Nets)
  31. Walker Kessler (Jazz)
  32. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  33. Damian Lillard (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Cavaliers)
  35. Chris Paul (Warriors)
  36. Bobby Portis (Bucks)
  37. Austin Reaves (Lakers)
  38. Duncan Robinson (Heat)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Derrick White (Celtics)
  41. Trae Young (Hawks)

Adebayo, Booker, Durant, Holiday, Lillard, and Tatum were part of the Olympic team that won gold in Tokyo in 2021. Jerami Grant, Draymond Green, Keldon Johnson, Zach LaVine, JaVale McGee, and Khris Middleton were also on that roster, but aren’t part of the preliminary pool this time around. It’s possible some of them turned down invitations.

“The United States boasts unbelievable basketball talent and I am thrilled that many of the game’s superstars have expressed interest in representing our country at the 2024 Olympic Summer Games,” national team managing director Grant Hill said in a statement. “It is a privilege to select the team that will help us toward the goal of once again standing atop the Olympic podium. This challenging process will unfold over the next several months as we eagerly anticipate the start of national team activity.”

USA Basketball also announced today that Team USA will face Team Canada in Las Vegas on July 10 in an exhibition game. It sounds like that contest will take place during the NBA’s 2024 Summer League.

Grizzlies’ Desmond Bane Out At Least Six Weeks

The Grizzlies’ lengthy injury list added two more names on Sunday, the team announced (via Twitter).

Guard Desmond Bane suffered a Grade 3 left ankle sprain during the third quarter against the Clippers on Friday. He will be reevaluated in six weeks.

Forward Jake LaRavia has a Grade 2 high left ankle sprain, which he suffered during the first quarter against the Knicks on Saturday. He will be reevaluated in three weeks.

Ja Morant and Steven Adams have already suffered season-ending injuries. The team announced on Thursday that Marcus Smart will be out at least six weeks due to a finger injury, and Brandon Clarke (Achilles) and Derrick Rose (hamstring) are also currently sidelined.

Bane is enjoying a career year, averaging 24.4 points, 5.3 assists and 4.6 rebounds. He officially leads the teams in scoring and assists, as Morant only appeared in nine games before a shoulder injury ended his season.

LaRavia has appeared in 11 games this season, averaging 3.6 points and 1.5 rebounds.

As was the case earlier this season, Memphis will soon become eligible for multiple hardship exceptions. The Grizzlies carried as many as 17 players on their standard roster in the fall when they was beset by injuries, adding Jaylen Nowell and Shaquille Harrison to 10-day contracts.