GG Jackson

Southwest Notes: Ryan, Morant, Grizzlies, Gafford, Mavs

When the Pelicans converted Matt Ryan from his two-way deal to a standard contract on the day before their regular season finale, they used their mid-level exception to sign him to a three-year deal that paid him $1.5MM in guaranteed money for the final two days of this season, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

In exchange for that substantial end-of-season payday, Ryan gave the Pelicans two additional years of low-cost control — he’s under contract for a non-guaranteed minimum salary ($2,196,970) in 2024/25, with a non-guaranteed minimum-salary team option ($2,381,501) for ’25/26.

Ryan’s salary for ’24/25 would become guaranteed if he remains under contract through the start of the regular season, but there are no trigger dates before that point, so New Orleans won’t necessarily need to make a decision on him until the fall.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is now being represented by Lift Management, according to a tweet from the agency. Morant reportedly parted ways with longtime agent Jim Tanner earlier this spring. The two-time All-Star has seen his stock drop following multiple suspensions for his off-court behavior, along with a shoulder injury that cost him nearly all of the 2023/24 season, but his maximum-salary contract runs for four more seasons.
  • Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal takes a look at what the Grizzlies want to see from their young players this summer, including projected Summer League participants like GG Jackson and Scotty Pippen Jr. As Cole observes, it’ll also a big offseason for Jake LaRavia, who will be entering his third NBA season, but it’s rare for former first-round picks to return for a third year of Summer League.
  • With center Daniel Gafford listed as questionable for Game 3 vs. the Clippers on Friday due to back spasms, the Mavericks could be forced to make a change to their starting lineup, writes Mike Curtis of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). Dereck Lively would likely be the top candidate to move into the starting five, though Maxi Kleber – who has averaged 27.0 minutes per game so far in the series – would also play a major role. Dwight Powell and Markieff Morris are also in the mix as depth options.

Southwest Notes: Irving, Ingram, Jackson, Wembanyama

Mavericks star guard Kyrie Irving is strictly adhering to his daily fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News writes. That made it all the more impressive that he hit a buzzer-beating shot to knock off the defending champion Nuggets on Sunday after not intaking food or drink for over nine hours.

Since Ramadan began, the Mavericks are 3-1 and Irving is reaching new heights while averaging 27.8 points, 8.5 assists, and 6.5 per game rebounds despite 12 hours each day without eating or drinking, Townsend writes.

Ramadan is a special time,” Irving said. “… It’s a difficult journey. To be able to play 48 minutes and do it without having a drink or any food in my stomach is nothing short of a miracle.

Irving converted to Islam in 2021, meaning this is the fourth spring he’s fasting for. Teammates, coaches and staff members, including assistant God Shammgod, have been actively supporting the star guard during Ramadan.

Kai’s been with other organizations where things sometimes have been misunderstood,” Shammgod said. “So it’s my job to make sure he has a gateway to the coaches, to the organization. And have an understanding from both sides.

Ramadan concludes on April 9 and the Mavericks will have played 14 games during that stretch of time.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans star forward Brandon Ingram‘s improved defense and play-making has helped the team achieve one of the best seasons in franchise history. Ingram unfortunately suffered a knee contusion on Thursday and is out for at least two weeks. However, as The Athletic’s William Guillory relays, the Pelicans should be relieved it isn’t worse, considering he may be in position to return ahead of the postseason. Ingram had appeared in 63 games this season, averaging 20.9 points and 5.8 assists. As Guillory observes, if Ingram doesn’t return before the postseason, he’ll still be eligible for any postseason awards despite not reaching 65 games because he was available for 85% of his team’s games at the time of injury.
  • GG Jackson continues to establish himself as an integral piece of the Grizzlies‘ future after slipping to the No. 45 pick in the 2023 draft and starting the year on a two-way deal, Michael Wallace of Grind City Media writes. Jackson is averaging 23.6 points while shooting 37.3% on 9.6 three-point attempts per game in his last seven outings, including a career-high 35-point showing on Wednesday. “We always knew it wasn’t a talent thing for him – it’s about carrying yourself as a pro each and every day,Desmond Bane said of Jackson’s development. “He’s got a lot of great people to learn from in our locker room, and he’s taking full advantage of it.
  • Spurs rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama said he’s going to be sharing his input on San Antonio’s future and is thankful the team wants it, according to’s Michael C. Wright (Twitter link). The Spurs will be consulting their franchise player on their offseason moves and the direction they go.

Southwest Notes: Wembanyama, Jackson, Mavs, McCollum

Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama became the youngest player to record an elusive 5×5 on Friday, recording at least five points, five rebounds, five assists, five steals and five blocks in the same game. Wembanyama joined Jamaal Tinsley as the only rookies in league history to accomplish the feat and he became just the second player, behind Michael Jordan, to record back-to-back games of five steals and five blocks.

What Wembanyama is doing as a rookie is unheard of, as emphasized by his stat line against the Lakers: 27 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, five blocks and five steals. In his last four games, the rookie is averaging 24.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 5.8 blocks, 5.5 assists and 3.3 steals.

Still, Wembanyama’s postgame comments suggest he’s more concerned about trying to win games than individual stats. When asked about joining Jordan in the history books, Wembanyama said “I wonder if he did it in wins,” according to ESPN’s Andrew Lopez.

Lakers superstar LeBron James had high praise for the 20-year-old rookie phenom after the game, calling Wembanyama one of the best rookies he’s ever seen.

He doesn’t have a ceiling,” James said. “He can do whatever he wants to do with his career. It seems like he enjoys the game. It seems like he puts in the work. Just from the outside looking in, I’m not with him on a day-to-day basis, but I said a long time ago how special he was, and it’s literally that simple.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies rookie GG Jackson II has been one of the bright spots of an unusually tough season in Memphis and it looks like his offensive role with the team is going to continue to grow. According to Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal, coach Taylor Jenkins said the team will look to transition Jackson from a secondary creator to a primary one and will put the ball in his hands more, though he’ll likely continue to come off the bench. “I feel like they put a lot of trust in me and they see the confidence in my game,” Jackson said.
  • The Mavericks are on a seven-game win streak despite having dealt with a plethora of injuries all season, writes Tim Cato of The Athletic. To illustrate just how unhealthy the Mavs have been, Cato points out that Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic have played fewer total games together (45) since Irving joined the team midway through last season than Bucks stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard have. Now, after trading for P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford at the deadline and getting players healthier, head coach Jason Kidd will have rotation questions to sort through. “We’re deep,” Kidd said. “This is the first time the Mavs have been deep in a long time.” Outside of Doncic, Irving and their new trade acquisitions, Dereck Lively, Josh Green and Derrick Jones Jr. are among those who have impressed this year.
  • Pelicans guard CJ McCollum suffered a left ankle injury on Friday night against Miami and did not return after initially being deemed questionable, according to team PR (Twitter link). McCollum is averaging 18.8 points and 4.6 assists per game this season for New Orleans.

Southwest Notes: Jackson, Williams, Jones, Brooks, Sochan

The Grizzlies upset the Bucks on Thursday, with young forwards GG Jackson and Vince Williams playing big parts in the victory. Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes that breakout years from Jackson and Williams are silver linings in an injury-riddled season from Memphis.

Jackson scored a career high-tying 27 points in the win over Milwaukee.

I try to be as coachable as possible,” Jackson said. “My high school coach called me a sponge back in the day. Not back in the day, it was like two years ago. I try to pick up on things as fast as I can, but not too fast to make sure I get every little detail.

Meanwhile, Williams finished that game with 18 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Both players look like they’ll fit perfectly on a fully healthy version of the Grizzlies. Williams gives Memphis another capable perimeter defender while Jackson’s ability to bring instant offense to the bench will be valuable.

Jackson in particular drew praise from Milwaukee’s stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard after the game, according to The Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Jonah Dylan. “I thought he had a great game,” Lillard said. “He came out, he was letting it fly, no hesitation.

Antetokounmpo said he liked Jackson “a lot.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans wing Herbert Jones is shining from beyond the arc in his third season in the league,’s Christian Clark observes. Jones is shooting a career-high 40.7% from deep and is connecting on 52.6% of his threes since the New Year. “Herb has been shooting the ball well lately,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “He is getting more and more confident in his shot.
  • Rockets wing Dillon Brooks‘ worst shooting season came last year with the Grizzlies, but he’s experiencing his best efficiency ever in his first year with Houston, Jonathan Feigen of Houston Chronicle writes. Overall, he’s taking smarter shots and helping Houston get into an offensive flow. “In general this year, I think he’s done a good job of really expanding his game and not getting pigeonholed into (the) defensive side only,” Rockets coach Ime Udoka said. “… It’s a lot to play both sides of the ball, not just be a scorer or a defensive guy only. I think he welcomes that role this year. It was good carryover from the Canadian national team and the things he did with them.
  • Jeremy Sochan has had somewhat of a roller-coaster season with the Spurs this year. Sochan took over point guard duties to begin the season, an experiment that was taxing on him and wasn’t producing San Antonio’s best offensive product, according to Tom Orsborn of San Antonio Express-News. However, Sochan seemed to have no regrets about going through with the position change, even if temporarily, and expressed the need for outsiders to have patience while this core grows together. “I always had the mentality that the only way is up,” Sochan said. “Everything I do is for a reason, to learn and grow. So, yeah, I feel good. It’s just growing and learning even more. The sky is the limit.

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: Watanabe, Jackson, Jemison, Gilyard

Yuta Watanabe was initially “sad” when he found out from his agent that he’d been traded. When he heard he was going to the Grizzlies, his demeanor changed, he told the media (video link) after a team shootaround on Monday.

“I’m excited now. Good to be back here,” he said. “This is where my NBA career started … I’m a grown man now, playing with confidence. … I’m so much better than I used to be.”

Watanabe, who played 33 games for Memphis in his first two NBA seasons from 2018-20, was included in the three-team deal among the Grizzlies, Nets and Suns on Tuesday.

We have more on the Grizzlies:

  • Memphis signed GG Jackson to a four-year contract on Friday. The last year of the deal – 2026/27 – will be a team option, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. Jackson had been on a two-way contract.
  • Jackson was not in uniform on Monday. He was held out by the club due to a violation of team rules, coach Taylor Jenkins told Jonah Dylan of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The rookie second-rounder had scored in double figures in his last four games.
  • Trey Jemison, who was added on a two-way deal on Friday, received a two-year contract, Scotto confirms (via Twitter).
  • Two-way player Jacob Gilyard is closing in on his 50-game NBA limit for the season, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. Gilyard had only three games remaining entering Monday’s action. He is not eligible to be on the active roster once he reaches 50 games, unless he signs a standard contract.

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 Sign GG Jackson To Four-Year Deal

FEBRUARY 9: The Grizzlies officially announced their new deal with Jackson, confirming in a press release that Metu has been waived to make room on the 15-man roster for Jackson’s promotion (Twitter link).

FEBRUARY 8: The Grizzlies and rookie GG Jackson have agreed to a four-year deal that will include three guaranteed seasons, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). The agreement will promote Jackson, who had been on a two-way contract, to Memphis’ standard 15-man roster.

The 45th overall pick in the 2023 draft, Jackson is the youngest player in the NBA this season and wasn’t part of the Grizzlies’ rotation to open the 2023/24 campaign. However, with the team plagued by injuries and no longer in serious contention for a playoff spot, Jackson has been given an opportunity in recent weeks and has run with it.

The former South Carolina standout had averaged 12.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 23.4 minutes per game with a shooting line of .445/.385/.692 in his previous 13 games entering play on Thursday. He had the best game of his young career against the Bulls on Thursday night, racking up 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting and grabbing nine rebounds in 32 minutes off the bench.

After making a pair of trades at the deadline with Boston and Phoenix, the Grizzlies have a full 15-man roster, but they reportedly intend to waive newly acquired big man Chimezie Metu, which would open a spot for Jackson to slide into. Once his promotion is official, Memphis will have an open two-way contract slot.

The Grizzlies figure to use a portion of their mid-level exception to sign Jackson to his new deal.

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Mavs’ Trade Prospects, Matkovic, Udoka

Thirteen of the Grizzlies‘ 15 players on standard contracts were sidelined by injuries for Sunday’s 40-point loss at Boston, writes Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. David Roddy and Luke Kennard were joined by three players on two-way contracts and three others on 10-day hardship deals as Memphis barely met the requirement of having eight active players for the game.

Coach Taylor Jenkins unveiled a makeshift starting lineup — his 30th of the season — consisting of Roddy, Kennard, G.G. Jackson, Trey Jemison and Jacob Gilyard. Jemison picked up two fouls in the game’s first minute, leaving 6’9″ forward Tosan Evbuomwan to match up with 7’3″ Kristaps Porzingis.

While the Grizzlies were clearly overmatched, some players are taking advantage of the opportunity. Cole singles out Jackson, who became the focus of the offense and scored 18 points on 24 shots, and Scotty Pippen Jr., who led the team with 19 points off the bench, as two who stood out.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Finding a power forward with size — preferably one who can shoot from the outside and contribute on both ends of the court — is the Mavericks‘ priority heading into Thursday’s trade deadline, multiple sources tell Tim Cato of The Athletic. He adds that the team could also use a backup center who can protect the rim, noting that Dallas is often forced to play zone against larger teams. Cato points out that rivals such as the Thunder and Jazz may be in the market for similar players and have more assets to offer than Dallas does.
  • Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News also assesses the Mavericks‘ trade outlook, observing that the 2027 pick is the team’s only tradeable first-rounder and suggesting that Josh Green, Jaden Hardy or Olivier-Maxence Prosper would likely have to be included in any significant deal.
  • As expected, Pelicans prospect Karlo Matkovic has left his KK Cedevita Olimpija team and is headed to New Orleans, according to Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops. Matkovic’s role with the organization hasn’t been defined publicly, but the Pelicans have one opening on their 15-man roster and Malcolm Hill‘s 10-day contract is about to expire. It’s also possible that Matkovic, a 6’11” power forward/center, will be signed to a G League deal and join the organization’s affiliate in Birmingham.
  • Rockets coach Ime Udoka was disappointed after watching his offense sputter against one of the league’s best defenses in Sunday’s loss at Minnesota, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “The lack of reaction was not making the easy play, making the easy pass to a teammate, driving into a crowd, trying to play through double-teams,” Udoka said. “A four-point game at half, we talked about … all these open shots that we left on the table by driving to a crowd (against) the No. 1 team defensively, top five in packing the paint, protecting the paint, what they give up in the paint.”

Southwest Notes: VanVleet, Whitmore, Jackson, Pelicans

The Rockets paid a huge price to add Fred VanVleet in free agency. He’s given them an unexpected bonus — a shot-blocking specialist from the backcourt, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle notes.

VanVleet holds the team lead with 41 blocks. He’s fourth among NBA guards in total blocks, though he believes some of those blocks could have been called steals.

“They’re strips, but I’ll take the blocks,” VanVleet said. “I think any deflection is good. I mean, this is probably my lowest activity I’ve had as a defender in a while. Just getting used to Coach’s (Ime Udoka) system. It’s a little bit different than how we played in Toronto. But there’s all different types of defense and rim protection. Whether it’s strips or deflections or making guys uncomfortable, I pride myself in having good hands.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets rookie forward Cam Whitmore was given an invitation to participate in the dunk contest during All-Star weekend but he declined, Feigen reports. Whitmore is willing to participate in future All-Star dunk contests but needs to come up with some creative dunks in the meantime. “I got asked twice for the dunk contest and I said no. I’m waiting until the time comes,” he said. “I don’t see myself as a dunker. I don’t have anything up my sleeve right now. But in year two, year three, when I establish myself as somebody in this league, yeah I’ll do it.”
  • Did GG Jackson come out too soon to the NBA? One talent evaluator interviewed by Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal feels that way. Jackson was selected with the No. 45 pick by the Grizzlies last June. Rafael Barlowe said Jackson might have cashed in as the top pick in this year’s draft if he had stayed in college. Jackson has scored in double digits in five of his last eight NBA appearances. “If he stayed in this class, he would have had another year of maturity, and the things that he’s doing right now, he’d be doing them on the college level,” Barlowe said. “I don’t think there would be anybody better.”
  • The Pelicans haven’t proven themselves against top-level competition, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune notes. This month, they have faced the Clippers, Nuggets, Suns, Thunder and Bucks and lost those matchups by an average of 18 points. “My biggest feeling about it is that we are capable, but we haven’t given ourselves a chance to win those types of games yet,” coach Willie Green said. “This is good experience for us coming down the stretch. We definitely know we have room for improvement.” New Orleans gave away a 17-point lead to Boston on Monday and lost, 118-112.