Jaren Jackson Jr.

Grizzlies Notes: Morant, Jackson, Bane, Adams

Adam Silver will wait until after the NBA Finals to announce Ja Morant‘s punishment for his latest gun-related incident, but the commissioner dropped some hints about the length of a potential suspension during his press conference last week, writes Mark Giannatto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Giannatto examines five statements from Silver to get an idea of what Morant’s suspension might look like. He suggests that the commissioner seemed more disappointed than angry about Morant’s behavior when he talked about creating “better circumstances going forward” for the Grizzlies star.

Silver mentioned the involvement of the players’ union in the process, which Giannatto believes may be encouraging for Morant. He points out that no player has ever been suspended for more than 30 games without being charged with a crime and theorizes that the NBPA won’t let that happen to Morant without putting up a fight.

There’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Appearing on Paul George‘s podcast, Jaren Jackson Jr. expressed support for Morant and said he’s holding up well amid the likelihood of suspension, relays Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. “He’s good,” Jackson said. “That’s my brother, though. No matter what, I stand by my brother, and I think that’s the lesson everybody should take away from this. … Everybody is going to say whatever, but they’re everybody. It never matters at the end of the day. This is your family. This is your brother.”
  • The absence of Morant will make this an especially important season for Desmond Bane, Cole adds in a separate story. Bane, who will be on the final year of his rookie contract, will have to assume a larger leadership role on the team and Cole states that he might have all-star potential. Cole also points to Santi Aldama, Ziaire Williams, Kenneth Lofton Jr. and Tyus Jones as players to watch heading into next season.
  • The Grizzlies never fully recovered after losing Steven Adams to a right knee injury in January, Cole states in another Commercial Appeal piece. The team’s starting center appeared in a career-low 42 games this season and was especially missed in the playoffs when Memphis was outmuscled in a first-round loss to the Lakers. Cole adds that in addition to his rebounding, the Grizzlies also missed Adams’ screen setting and his leadership as the oldest player on the team.

Ingram, Jackson Jr. Commit To Team USA

Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram and Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. are the latest players to commit to play for Team USA this summer, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

That brings the total of players who have reportedly committed to Team USA to eight. USA Basketball plans to finalize the 12-man roster later this month.

Team USA will compete for the FIBA World Cup in the Philippines.

A quartet of guards — the Timberwolves‘ Anthony Edwards, the Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton , the Lakers’ Austin Reaves, and Knicks’ Jalen Brunsonhave already pledged to play along with Nets forward Mikal Bridges and Bucks forward Bobby Portis.

Ingram averaged 24.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists in an injury-marred season in which he played just 45 games. Jackson averaged 18.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 1.0 steals in 63 regular-season games en route to being named Defensive Player of the Year. Jackson will provide a much-needed shot blocking presence for the squad, which begins training camp Aug. 3 in Las Vegas.

Another Grizzlies big man, Santi Aldama, is expected to play for Spain in the World Cup.

Team USA will play its first exhibition game Aug. 7 against Puerto Rico and will also make stops in Spain and the United Emirates before its World Cup opener Aug. 26 against New Zealand.

Pacific Notes: Curry, Ranadive, Suns, Frank

All-Star Warriors point guard Stephen Curry has been named the league’s 2022-23 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion, the NBA has announced in a press release.

Curry’s efforts in the social justice sphere of late include promoting voting initiatives and building awareness about community safety. He and his wife Ayesha Curry run a non-profit, Eat. Learn. Play., focused on ensuring nutritious foods be provided to children in underserved Oakland communities. Curry also runs a lifestyle brand, UNDERRATED, and Unanimous Media, a multimedia company, which are designed to create opportunities for underrepresented athletes and creators, respectively.

As a condition of Curry’s win this year, the NBA will donate $100K to the social justice cause of Curry’s choosing, the University of San Francisco Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice.

Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr., Spurs reserve point guard Tre Jones, Suns starting point guard Chris Paul and Celtics power forward Grant Williams were the other four finalists for the award. All will earn $25K from the league, to be donated to the charity of their choosing.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive was among seven finalists bidding for NHL club the Ottawa Senators, but has since fallen out of the running, per Randy Diamond of The Sacramento Bee. Each of the seven finalists had reportedly been proposing purchase prices north of $800MM. Ranadive’s ownership group bought Sacramento a decade ago for $533MM. The club’s valuation is currently estimated at $2.5 billion.
  • The Suns’ interviews for their head coaching vacancy might conclude this weekend, reports John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Phoenix (Twitter link). Former Raptors head coach Nick Nurse and Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez interviewed on Thursday. Ex-Lakers head coach Frank Vogel and ex-Sixers head coach Doc Rivers, who coached Phoenix starting point guard Chris Paul on the Clippers, are set to meet with Suns executives on Friday.
  • Clippers team president Lawrence Frank released a statement thanking and congratulating former Los Angeles GM Michael Winger on his new job as team president for the Wizards (Twitter link). “Michael is one of the NBA’s brightest team-builders, a strategic and creative thinker who is always a step ahead,” Frank said in part.

NBA Announces 2022/23 All-Defensive Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-Defensive teams for the 2022/23 season.

A total of 100 media members vote on the All-Defensive awards, with players receiving two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote. This year’s All-Defensive teams are as follows:

First Team

Second Team

Unsurprisingly, Jackson – who was this season’s Defensive Player of the Year – received the most First Team votes (96) and showed up on the most overall ballots (99). Only one voter didn’t have Jackson on either All-Defensive team.

Milwaukee teammates Holiday (94) and Lopez (85) received the second- and third-most First Team votes. No other player earned more than 50.

While the Bucks have two players on the First Team, it’s a bit surprising to see former DPOY Giannis Antetokounmpo miss out altogether. Antetokounmpo earned 16 First Team votes and 28 Second Team votes for a total of 60 points, the most of any player who didn’t earn All-Defensive honors. Although he received more total points than Brooks or Adebayo, Giannis didn’t make the cut because there were four forwards with more points than him.

Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels (40 points), Celtics guard Marcus Smart (35), Nets guard Mikal Bridges (33), and Nets center Nic Claxton (25) would have joined Antetokounmpo on a hypothetical All-Defensive Third Team as the highest vote-getters who fell just short.

A total of 38 players showed up on at least one ballot — the full voting results can be viewed here.

Being named to an All-Defensive team will benefit a pair of players financially, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter). White earned a $250K bonus for his Second Team nod, while Holiday will receive $129,600 for making the First Team.

Jaren Jackson Jr. Named Defensive Player Of Year

Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. has been named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, the NBA on TNT tweets. Jackson received 56 of the 100 first-place votes, according to an NBA press release.

The Bucks’ Brook Lopez and Cavaliers’ Evan Mobley were the other finalists. Lopez was the runner-up, notching 31 first-place votes while Mobley received eight. Draymond Green (3) and Bam Adebayo (1) also received first-place votes and finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Joel Embiid claimed the final first-place vote, though the Sixers star finished ninth overall, behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, OG Anunoby, and Jrue Holiday. Nic Claxton, Alex Caruso, and Jimmy Butler also appeared on at least one ballot.

Jackson led the NBA in blocks per game (3.0) and also averaged one steal in 63 regular-season appearances for the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed. He had a career-best 2.0 Defensive Box Plus/Minus rating and a 3.8 Defensive Win Shares rating, ranking him among the top 10 in the league in both categories.

Lopez averaged a career-high 2.5 blocks while serving as the defensive anchor for the Eastern Conference’s top seed. His total of 193 blocks in 78 games led the league during the regular season.

Mobley averaged 1.5 blocks per game and, along with Jarrett Allen, anchored a defense that limited opponents to a NBA-low 106.9 points per game.

The Celtics’ Marcus Smart scored a rare victory for a guard when he won the award last season. Rudy Gobert won it as a member of the Jazz three of the previous four years. Antetokounmpo won it during the pandemic-shortened 2019/20 season.

Among active players, Green (2016/17 season) and Kawhi Leonard (2014/15 and 2015/16) have also earned the honor.

Grizzlies Notes: Morant Injury, Jones, Jackson

The Grizzlies haven’t determined Ja Morant‘s status going forward, but the scene in the locker room wasn’t encouraging after Sunday’s loss to the Lakers, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Morant kept his right hand at his side after hurting it on a collision with Anthony Davis in the fourth quarter. He used his left hand to check his phone, put on headphones and get dressed after a shower, raising questions about whether he can be ready when the series resumes Wednesday night.

Morant appeared to reaggravate a bruise on his hand that he suffered in the next-to-last game of the season. An X-ray on the hand Sunday was negative, but Morant described his pain level as “about a 10” and admitted there was “doubt” that he can be ready for Game 2.

“I’m gonna do anything to try to be out there for my team, be out there on the floor, pretty much how much I can tolerate, to like I can go out there and be somewhat like myself,” he said. “ If not, I don’t want to do anything to hurt the team.”

Vardon notes that most of Morant’s difficulties this season have been self-inflicted, with the most obvious being an eight-game suspension last month after posting a video of himself with a gun in a Denver-area nightclub. That seemed to be weighing on him as he considered the injury he suffered Sunday, Vardon states.

“It’s very tough, stressful,” Morant said. “Obviously, I feel like you guys can tell my body language and stuff now. Pretty much taking what happened, I don’t know, I’m numb to everything right now. It’s like, I’m not even surprised. It’s one thing after another.”

There’s more from Memphis:

  • The suspension gave the Grizzlies a chance to get used to playing without Morant, so they have some confidence even if he can’t be ready for Wednesday, Vardon adds. Backup point guard Tyus Jones made 22 starts this season, averaging 16.4 points and 8.1 assists per game in that role, and Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. look to score more often when Morant is out. “We’ve been in that position before without him on the floor, and Tyus is obviously capable to play a big role and make plays on both ends of the floor,” Bane said. “You know, so, hopefully, Ja is back Wednesday, but if not, Ty will be ready to go.”
  • Jackson was a bright spot for Memphis with 31 points while hitting 13 of his 21 shots from the field, notes Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. Jackson was one of the league’s best interior players over the last month of the regular season and he looked like a mismatch for LeBron James in Game 1, Cole adds.
  • The Lakers may now be the favorites to win the series considering Sunday’s performance and the uncertainty surrounding Morant, contends Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.

Grizzlies Notes: Adams’ Absence, Jackson, Williams, Morant

Now that they know they can’t count on having Steven Adams back for the playoffs, the Grizzlies must embrace the new identity they’ve been establishing without Adams – and his offensive rebounding and screen setting – available, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

As Cole outlines, that means Jaren Jackson Jr. may face more challenging defensive assignments in the postseason and that everyone will have to help out on the glass, including guards Ja Morant and Desmond Bane.

Cole also suggests that the Grizzlies should look to take advantage of the added versatility of their Adams-less lineups, since having David Roddy, Xavier Tillman, or Santi Aldama on the court makes the team more switchable on defense.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Jackson believes he should win this season’s Defensive Player of the Year award, telling Tim MacMahon of ESPN that he wants it “bad.” However, while Jackson’s ability to protect the rim and anchor the Grizzlies’ defense was his greatest asset during the regular season, his scoring on offense might ultimately determine how high the team’s ceiling is this spring, according to MacMahon, who notes that the big man averaged 22.7 points per game on 51.1% shooting in the nine games Morant missed in March.
  • Writing for the Commercial Appeal, Cole looks back at the Grizzlies’ decision to select Ziaire Williams at No. 10 in the 2021 draft. Williams spent much of the 2022/23 season playing in the G League and battling injuries. Meanwhile, Trey Murphy – whom the Pelicans selected with the No. 17 pick they received from Memphis in the trade that also included the No. 10 pick, Adams, and Jonas Valanciunas – has enjoyed a breakout year in New Orleans, averaging 20.4 points per game on .506/.453/.903 shooting in his last 18 games.
  • In an exclusive report, Gus Garcia-Roberts and Molly Hensley-Clancy of The Washington Post provide more details on the off-court incidents that Morant was involved in during the past year and suggest that local police didn’t investigate those incidents as thoroughly as they could have. The Post’s duo identified and interviewed the teenager who was punched by the Grizzlies guard in a pickup game and spoke to a shoe salesman at a Memphis mall who said he was shaken up after allegedly being threatened by Morant.

And-Ones: Hard Cap, In-Season Tournament, J.R. Smith, Teammate Award

NBA owners originally sought a hard cap in negotiations with the union regarding the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but the idea was taken off the table fairly early, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski says in his latest podcast (hat tip to Real GM). He notes that the proposal was intended to restrain the league’s top spenders, but many franchises in smaller markets were opposed to it as well.

“Even a lot of small market teams were worried about a hard cap in places, like let’s say Cleveland, where all of a sudden you’re good enough to win a championship,” Wojnarowski said. “You have a team and you’re willing to go into the tax to keep that team together. Then all of a sudden with a hard cap and guaranteed contracts, the Cavs, using them as an example, or Oklahoma City four or five years from now, the smaller market teams worried ‘This is going to work against us.'”

Wojnarowski explains that a pure hard cap would make it impossible for the Cavaliers to keep the four players they hope to build the franchise around. They would eventually have to make a choice between re-signing Darius Garland or Donovan Mitchell or between retaining Evan Mobley or Jarrett Allen.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran NBA writer Marc Stein isn’t a fan of the in-season tournament that will begin in 2023/24 under the new CBA, writing in his latest piece for Substack (subscription required) that there’s nothing special about the competition until it reaches its Final Four. All the early rounds will be regular-season games played at NBA arenas, but the semifinals and finals will be held at a neutral site. Stein claims the league failed in its attempt to recreate the excitement of cup competitions in soccer.
  • J.R. Smith spoke about his current projects with Jenna Lemoncelli of The New York Post, but the 37-year-old guard notes that he hasn’t officially retired from the NBA. Smith, who last played for the Lakers during the bubble in Orlando, continues to work out so he’s ready in case another opportunity arises.
  • Last week the NBA announced the 12 finalists for the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award, per a league press release. The finalists are Brooklyn’s Mikal Bridges, Cleveland’s Darius Garland, Miami’s Udonis Haslem, Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday, New York’s Derrick Rose, Boston’s Grant Williams, Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Denver’s Aaron Gordon, Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr., Phoenix’s Damion Lee and Portland’s Damian Lillard. According to the NBA, a panel of league executives selected the finalists, but current players will select the winner. Holiday won the award for the second time last season.

Rory Maher contributed to this post.

Southwest Notes: Morant, Mavericks, Doncic, Silas

Ja Morant watched Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. raise their play to another level during his suspension, but the Grizzlies still need Morant to take over games in clutch time, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Cole notes that when Morant returned to the team, he talked to coach Taylor Jenkins about how he could alter his game so he wouldn’t take anything away from Bane and Jackson.

Morant is averaging 22.5 points and 7.3 assists since he resumed playing while shooting 43% from the floor and 20% from three-point range. Cole points out that all those numbers are below Morant’s averages for the season and observes that his tendency to overdribble may come from trying to figure out his new role in the offense.

“For me, it’s getting used to pretty much not being the main option,” Morant said. “Just finding my spots. We got Jaren and Des who have took over that role for us. For me, just getting them the ball and then when I get my chance, just take it.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks‘ postseason hopes are in jeopardy after Sunday’s loss in Atlanta wrapped up a 1-4 road trip, notes Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com. At 37-42, Dallas is a game behind the 10th-place Thunder and will need some help to reach the play-in tournament. “We know the situation we’re in,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We’re playing catch-up. And we got to find a way to win. Right now, we’re coming up short. We need to win games and unfortunately we’re not winning right now.”
  • The Mavericks may have larger concerns in the offseason because their franchise player, Luka Doncic, appears so “despondent,” Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated says in a podcast with Chris Mannix (video link). Doncic hasn’t jelled with Kyrie Irving since he was acquired in February, and Dallas faces the unpleasant choice of giving Irving a huge contract in free agency or having Doncic play next season with a below-average roster.
  • Kelly Iko of The Athletic addresses the Rockets‘ coaching situation, suggesting it’s not certain that Stephen Silas will be replaced after the season ends. He says it’s possible Silas will be brought back for another year with more veterans on the roster, although the front office will explore other options such as Ime Udoka, Frank Vogel or Nick Nurse if he becomes available.

Injury Notes: Morant, Grizzlies, SGA, Markkanen, Cavs, Pacers

Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant missed Tuesday’s game vs. Orlando due to right thigh soreness, but there are no long-term concerns about the injury, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. It sounds like the team was simply playing it safe with Morant, who recently returned from an eight-game absence and will be available on Wednesday for the second game of a back-to-back set.

While Morant will suit up on Wednesday, the Grizzlies may give a few other regulars the night off when they host the Clippers. According to the team (Twitter link), Desmond Bane (right foot soreness), Jaren Jackson Jr. (left calf soreness), and Tyus Jones (left foot soreness) are all considered doubtful to play.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Two teams still in the thick of the Western Conference play-in race won’t have their All-Stars available on Wednesday. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (left ankle sprain) will miss a second consecutive game when the Thunder host the Pistons, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link), while forward Lauri Markkanen (left hand contusion) won’t play for the Jazz in San Antonio, according to Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link).
  • Jarrett Allen (right groin strain) and Isaac Okoro (left knee soreness) missed Tuesday’s game for the Cavaliers, but Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com hears their absences were precautionary, with the team having already clinched its playoff spot. “Isaac is extremely disappointed because Isaac wanted to play all 82 games,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “But this is something where just big picture we need to make sure we take care of him. We know how important he is and how impactful he can be for us. So, you just have to keep an eye on him. Isaac will keep running through a wall if you don’t pull him back some. We’re trying to do our best to protect him.”
  • Tyrese Haliburton (right ankle sprain; left elbow soreness), Buddy Hield (non-COVID illness), and Chris Duarte (left ankle soreness) will all be unavailable for the Pacers on Wednesday vs. Milwaukee for a second consecutive game, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Myles Turner, who has missed the last two games due to left ankle soreness, is listed as questionable.