Edniesha Curry

Western Notes: Z. Williams, Suns, Kings, Blazers

Second-year wing Ziaire Williams might be the key for the Grizzlies to become a better mid-range shooting team, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Memphis led the league in points in the paint last season, but seldomly made mid-range jumpers, ranking just 26th in the league during the regular season and last in the playoffs, per Cole. The 6’8″ Williams, meanwhile, is a talented pull-up shooter, with the ability to create his shot in multiple ways, Cole notes.

I was blessed to have that mid-range, man,” Williams said during Summer League. “We’ve been working on that shot since I was 5 or 6 years old. It’s definitely there for sure, especially with my height and my length. I get that shot off a lot.”

On a very limited volume, Williams shot 48% on mid-rangers as a rookie in 2021/22, which ranked in the 87th percentile of all players, according to DunksAndThrees.com.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic considers several possible free agent targets for the Suns‘ final roster spot, including Carmelo Anthony, Jarrett Culver, Facundo Campazzo, and Ben McLemore, among others.
  • Did the offseason moves the Kings made make them a playoff team? Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee explores that topic, noting that shooting was a priority and the Kings addressed that need by adding Malik Monk (free agent), Kevin Huerter (trade with Atlanta) and Keegan Murray (No. 4 overall pick). Ultimately, Anderson thinks Sacramento should definitely improve its win total from last season after going 30-52, but landing one of the final spots in the play-in tournament might be a more realistic outcome than breaking the long playoff drought.
  • A source tells Marc J. Spears of Andscape (Twitter link) that the Trail Blazers have parted ways with assistant coach Edniesha Curry. Portland confirmed the news (Twitter link via Spears), though the reasoning behind the move was vague. Curry, a former WNBA player, was a first-year assistant in ’21/22.

Western Notes: J. Jackson, Gasol, Blazers, Kings, Christie

A total of 56 free agents reached contract agreements with teams around the NBA on Monday, but not a single one of those players is signing with the Grizzlies. That’s by design though, according to Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal, who writes that Memphis’ plan was always to have a quiet free agent period and focus on negotiating a potential contract extension with Jaren Jackson Jr.

One of 24 players eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason, Jackson won’t get a maximum-salary deal like Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. But Grizzlies head of basketball operations Zach Kleiman has suggested that the former fourth overall pick remains very much in the franchise’s long-term plans.

“I think we’re going to be our best selves over time with Jaren,” Kleiman said after the draft, per Barnes. “Spacing the floor, attacking, creating, defensively taking advantage of the versatility he brings to the table.”

Here’s more from around the West as we wait for day two of free agency to start heating up:

  • When Marc Gasol signed a two-year, minimum-salary contract with the Lakers last summer, there was some speculation that he might decide to retire after the 2020/21 season. That’s not his plan though. As Brian Windhorst of ESPN tweets, Gasol told reporters following Spain’s elimination from the Olympics on Tuesday that he intends to continue his NBA career and finish his contract with L.A.
  • The Trail Blazers formally announced Chauncey Billups‘ coaching staff in a press release on Monday, confirming that previously-reported assistant coaching hires such as Scott Brooks, Roy Rogers, Steve Hetzel, and Edniesha Curry are now official. Former Long Island Nets assistant Milt Palacio will also be part of Billups’ staff, according to the team.
  • Doug Christie is moving from the broadcast booth to the sidelines, as the Kings officially announced the former NBA player and veteran TV analyst will be joining Luke Walton‘s staff as an assistant coach. Christie, who played for Sacramento from 2000-05, said in a statement that coaching for the Kings has been a “dream of mine.”

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Blazers, Hernangomez, Nuggets

While it doesn’t look at this point like the Trail Blazers will seriously explore Damian Lillard trades this offseason, that doesn’t mean they’re not getting calls about their All-NBA point guard. Front office sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer that the Heat, Kings, Knicks, Rockets, and Sixers have been the most aggressive suitors for Lillard as of late.

With no Lillard trade request imminent, the Blazers are more likely to pursue upgrades around the star guard, though O’Connor notes that the team’s trade assets are somewhat limited. Portland doesn’t have any draft picks this year and rival teams aren’t particularly high on young players like Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little, according to O’Connor. The club’s best bet for a deal that reshapes the roster and increases its ceiling might involve CJ McCollum and Ben Simmons, O’Connor adds.

Here’s more from around the Northwest: