Jaren Jackson Jr.

Morant Showing Good Progress From Shoulder Surgery

Ja Morant appears to be ahead of schedule in his recovery from shoulder surgery, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports.

According to Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins, Morant and several other players who suffered significant injuries are making good progress. Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., Ziaire Williams, Vince Williams and Marcus Smart were among the other Grizzlies players who missed chunks of time due to injury this season.

“Everything is going well,” Jenkins said on Tuesday. “Ja is the only one when June rolls around, he’s going to be pretty close to full go on the court. Everything that everyone was dealing with towards the end of the season is in a good place right now.”

Morant’s season was essentially a washout. He missed the first 25 games of the season due to an NBA suspension, then averaged 25.1 points, 8.1 assists and 5.6 rebounds in nine games after the suspension, including a game-winning shot against New Orleans on Dec. 19 in his return to action.

Morant was then diagnosed with a labral tear in his right shoulder after a training session. At the time of his January surgery, the recovery process was outlined as a six-month process.

Grizzlies head of basketball operations Zach Kleiman said in April that there wasn’t a timeline on Morant’s full availability, but that he was “expected to be fully cleared for basketball activities maybe halfway through the offseason.”

Morant will be entering the second year of his five-year, max contract.

Southwest Notes: Ingram, Thompson, Lively, Jackson Jr.

Brandon Ingram‘s outing against the Lakers in Tuesday’s play-in loss was just his second since returning from a bone bruise that forced him to miss 12 games. Ingram was pulled from that loss with 7:38 to go in the fourth quarter and didn’t return, finishing with 25 minutes of game time.

I just liked the group that was on the floor at the time,” head coach Willie Green said. “B.I. is still getting back. Still getting his rhythm. So I didn’t want to force the issue. I liked the group that was going.

However, as NOLA.com’s Christian Clark observes, the Pelicans are going to need to rely on Ingram more in Friday’s play-in outing against the Kings. Zion Williamson, who scored 40 points in the loss, was ruled out with a hamstring injury he suffered near the end of Tuesday’s game.

The Pelicans saw most of their success on Tuesday with a bench-heavy lineup centered around Williamson. Meanwhile, Ingram finished with 12 points while CJ McCollum had just nine. As Clark writes, if Williamson didn’t get hurt, Green may have finished the game without either Ingram or McCollum on the floor. The Pelicans were outscored by 3.2 points per 100 possessions with Williamson, Ingram and McCollum sharing the floor this season.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Magic have previously been mentioned as a potential suitor for unrestricted free agent Klay Thompson. According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, the Mavericks are another team worth monitoring as a landing spot for Warriors‘ the five-time All-Star. Thompson had his worst shooting night of the season in the play-in against the Kings, missing all 10 of his shots. However, as Amick writes, he’d been playing better toward the end of the season, averaging 21.8 points on 41.6% shooting from deep in the 10 games after getting his starting job back.
  • Dereck Lively II‘s status for Game 1 against the Clippers on Sunday is still in the air, but he went through practice on Tuesday and appeared to be moving well, Mavs.com’s Eddie Sefko reports. Lively, who has been out since March 31 after averaging 8.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game in his rookie season, pairs with Daniel Gafford to provide a one-two punch for the Mavericks at the center position.
  • The Grizzlies are looking to add more size to their rotation next season after shipping Steven Adams and Xavier Tillman out in separate deals this season. However, as Grind City Media’s Michael Wallace writes, they’re not yet committed to playing Jaren Jackson Jr. to strictly one position. “I like seeing Jaren out there at [power forward] more, with another big man, and then me coming off the bench,” teammate Brandon Clarke said. “That was kind of how it was the past four years. But we just really got to get healthy first. And we’re going to get a good pick in the draft. So, I trust the front office with what they choose. But sounds like we need somebody big and somebody strong down there for us.

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.”

Zion, Holiday, Jackson Meet 65-Game Criteria For Award Eligibility

Pelicans forward Zion Williamson met the criteria for end-of-season award eligibility on Wednesday by appearing in his 65th game of the season, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

It’s a career high for Williamson, who appeared in 61 games in his second NBA season in 2020/21 but had otherwise never played more than 29 times in a season. The former No. 1 overall pick has built a legitimate case for All-NBA consideration this season, averaging 22.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in 31.3 minutes per contest, with a .581 FG%.

The bad news for Williamson and the Pelicans is that he didn’t play the final seven-plus minutes of Wednesday’s loss to Orlando due to a finger injury on his left hand. As Andrew Lopez of ESPN details, Zion had his left middle finger taped up after the game, but declined to speculate on the severity of the injury when he spoke to reporters.

“I don’t want to say anything that’s not right, to be honest,” he said. “But yeah, I tweaked it a little bit. I’ll have more information on it [Thursday] morning and I’m going to get it looked at and go from there.”

Appearing in 65+ games and potentially earning an All-NBA spot this season wouldn’t have any real impact on Williamson’s contract situation, though as Marks outlines in a YouTube video, the 23-year-old is on a unique deal and his games played in future seasons will help determine how much of his salary is guaranteed or non-guaranteed going forward.

Williamson was one of three notable players to reach the 65-game threshold for award consideration on Wednesday, according to Marks, who points out (via Twitter) that Celtics guard Jrue Holiday and Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. also got there. It was technically Jackson’s 66th outing of the season, but he played fewer than 15 minutes in one of those contests, so it didn’t count toward the 65-game minimum.

Neither Holiday nor Jackson is a legitimate candidate for an All-NBA spot or for any other major award except for All-Defense. Holiday has made the All-Defensive First Team three times, including last season, and has also earned a pair of Second Team nods, while Jackson is the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year and has made the First Team in each of the past two seasons.

There’s essentially no chance that Jackson will repeat as Defensive Player of the Year for the lottery-bound Grizzlies, but it’s worth noting that if he did – or if he wins the DPOY award next season – he would become eligible for a super-max extension in July 2025.

Southwest Notes: Champagnie, Wesley, Thompson, Mavs, Jackson Jr.

Julian Champagnie knows that defense and rebounding must be his calling card to remain a rotation player in the league for years to come. The Spurs forward has started 35 of 50 games this season despite modest averages of 5.9 points and 4.8 shot attempts in 16.7 minutes per game.

“Whether I have five (points) or 15 or 20 or six, I think it’s just make sure I’m not a negative defender on the court,” he told Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News.

Point guard Blake Wesley, a 2022 first-round selection, has received steady playing time the last two months and wants to keep it that way. He’s cut his turnovers dramatically in his second season, committing only 29 in 36 games.

“I want to stay consistent and build on each and every game,” Wesley said. “Play hard and stay in the rotation. That’s my main goal.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Amen Thompson, the fourth pick of last year’s draft, has seen his role expand this month, including crunch-time minutes, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle notes. Thompson is averaging 13.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.4 steals in 30.6 minutes per game across nine February outings. He played 20 second-half minutes in a four-point win over Phoenix on Friday. “He’s growing on a nightly basis,” Rockets coach Ime Udoka said. “He gives us some versatility.”
  • The Mavericks began a tough four-game road trip on Sunday but coach Jason Kidd has plenty of depth now, due to the addition of big man Daniel Gafford and the imminent return of Dante Exum from injury. Kidd said his rotation could include 10 or 11 players for the time being. “We’ve got to be playing our best basketball going into April,” Kidd told Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. “That’s the goal.”
  • Jaren Jackson Jr.‘s offensive role has grown due to the heavy toll injuries have taken on his Grizzlies teammates. He’s also had to adjust to playing center often, rather than power forward. “JJ’s handled all these recent growth opportunities beautifully,” coach Taylor Jenkins told Kelly Iko of The Athletic. “We’ve thrown a lot of things at him purposely, the nature of where the roster is at.” Jackson is averaging 25.4 points and 20.7 shot attempts, along with 3.6 assists, per game this month.

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.

Minimum Game Requirement For Awards Looms Large For Super-Max Candidates

As we detailed back in September, there are several players around the NBA who would benefit financially from making an All-NBA team or winning a Most Valuable Player of Defensive Player of the Year award in 2023/24.

Heat big man Bam Adebayo, Kings guard De’Aaron Fox, Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, Nuggets guard Jamal Murray are among the players who would become eligible to sign a super-max (Designated Veteran) contract during the 2024 offseason by earning one of those honors this season.

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could ensure they become eligible to sign a super-max extension in 2025 by making this year’s All-NBA team. Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. could do the same by winning a second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award.

Additionally, Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, and Hornets guard LaMelo Ball signed maximum-salary rookie scale extensions that will be worth 30% of next season’s salary cap (instead of 25%) if they make an All-NBA team this spring. These “Rose Rule” contracts are essentially “mini” super-max deals.

Not all of those 10 players look like legitimate All-NBA, MVP, or DPOY candidates this season, but many of them will be in the mix. However, as Tim Bontemps and Bobby Marks write at ESPN.com, the newly implemented 65-game minimum requirement for award winners looms large for this group.

Without appearing in 65 games (including at least 63 of 20-plus minutes and two of 15-plus minutes), these players will be ineligible to earn an All-NBA spot, and without that end-of-season honor, they won’t be in position to receive a higher maximum salary.

According to Bontemps and Marks, a player who misses more than 17 of his team’s games, falling short of appearing in the required 65, can technically still qualify for award recognition, but only in very specific scenarios:

  1. If the player appeared in at least 62 games (and 85% of his team’s games to that point) and then suffers a season-ending injury.
  2. If the player files a grievance and presents “clear and convincing evidence” that his team limited his games or his minutes with the intention of depriving him of award eligibility.

While there’s also a clause for “extraordinary circumstances,” the NBA and NBPA don’t expect that clause to apply to injury absences, since it would essentially defeat the purpose of the rule, per ESPN’s duo.

Of the 10 players mentioned above, one is already ineligible for a major end-of-season award — Ball has appeared in just 19 of the Hornets’ first 39 games due to an ankle injury, so even if he doesn’t miss a game for the rest of the season, he’ll max out at 62 appearances. Given Charlotte’s spot in the standings, Ball would have been an All-NBA long shot anyway, but he has been playing at a very high level when he’s been healthy.

The 65-game mark remains within reach for the rest of this group, though some players can’t really afford any sort of extended absence. Adebayo, for instance, has missed 10 of Miami’s 42 games so far and only logged 12 minutes in an 11th, which means it won’t count toward his 65. Seven more missed games would cost him his award eligibility.

Murray is in a similar spot — he has missed 14 of Denver’s 43 games and played just 10 minutes in a 15th, so three more missed games would make him ineligible for award consideration.

Doncic has missed seven games for the Mavericks, while Fox has missed six for the Kings, so they’re on pace to play in enough games, but if either player turns an ankle or tweaks a hamstring and is forced to the sidelines for a couple weeks, he’d be in trouble.

It looked like that might happen with Haliburton, who sat out just three of the Pacers’ first 36 games, then strained his hamstring earlier this month. He was expected to be unavailable for at least a couple weeks, but returned to action on Friday night, ahead of schedule, after missing just five contests.

Haliburton is a legitimate All-NBA candidate and would be in line for a projected $41MM pay increase across his five-year extension if he earns one of those 15 spots. Were those financial considerations a factor in his early return to action? Would he still have been inactive on Friday if that 65-game minimum weren’t in play?

It’s hard to imagine the Pacers allowing their franchise player to risk potential re-injury by coming back too early, but Haliburton certainly has a ton of motivation to play in every game he can this year.

As Howard Beck of The Ringer writes, that 65-game minimum will be a fascinating subplot to follow in the second half of the season. Although we’ve focused here on players whose future earnings could be directly tied to whether or not they claim an end-of-season award, there are many other potential All-NBA candidates who may fall short of 65 games, changing the equation for voters.

Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Donovan Mitchell, Devin Booker, Zion Williamson, and Lauri Markkanen are among the stars who have been out for eight or more games so far this season, Beck observes. Kevin Durant has missed seven.

The 65-game minimum isn’t necessary to earn votes for Sixth Man of the Year, Rookie of the Year, or an All-Rookie spot, but the other major awards require at least 65 appearances.

In 2023, five of the 15 players who made an All-NBA team appeared in fewer than 65 games, but that won’t be the case in 2024. The players who have the most riding on All-NBA honors from a financial perspective may be the ones most motivated to stay on the court, but as Adebayo points out, you “can’t stop injuries from happening.”

“God forbid nobody gets hurt, but you can’t [prevent] injury,” he said, per Bontemps and Marks. “I think it’s crazy that we even have the rule. It’s one of those things where you just accept the rule. … I guess use your 17 games as wisely as possible.”

Southwest Notes: Brooks, Udoka, Wembanyama, Grizzlies, Williams

Dillon Brooks will be back in the Rockets‘ lineup for tonight’s game at Boston, tweets Kelly Iko of The Athletic. The defensive specialist has been out of action since December 26 due to a right abdominal oblique injury. He won’t be on a minutes restriction, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

Brooks, who took part in his team’s pre-game shootaround on Friday night for the first time since the injury, talked to Danielle Lerner of The Houston Chronicle about his recovery process.

“It’s been a struggle,” he said. “I want to be out there so bad. Talking about switching, being disciplined on switching, and any time they have an opening to attack the offensive end or whatever, trying to accomplish that.”  

Brooks has helped to transform the Rockets’ defense after signing as a free agent last summer, bringing a strong presence to a team that finished near the bottom of the league in nearly every significant defensive category during its three years of rebuilding. Lerner points out that the version of Houston’s starting lineup that includes Brooks is among the NBA’s best five-man units in terms of net rating and defensive rating.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets coach Ime Udoka returns to the TD Garden tonight for the first time since leading the Celtics to the 2022 NBA Finals, notes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Udoka has maintained close ties with his former players, but this marks their first on-court meeting since he was suspended and ultimately replaced by Joe Mazzulla. “I saw Ime a couple of times this summer. That’s somebody I got a really, really good relationship with. Talk to him all the time,” Jayson Tatum said. “I’m happy for him that he’s gotten this new opportunity. I think they’re going to see a lot of improvement with that team, right? They got some new talent, some new guys, so that helps. Playing against him is going to be a little weird. It’s going to be the first head coach that I’ve had to play against that I had. So it’s going to be different.”
  • Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama responded Friday to rumors that some teammates are reluctant to share the ball with him, tweets Josh Paredes of FanSided. “Of course, I’ve heard it, but it’s never been even close to reality,” Wembanyama said. “There’s nobody on this team that doesn’t want to pass me the ball and there’s nobody I don’t want to pass the ball to.”
  • Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. are the latest additions to the Grizzlies‘ long injury list. Bane, who has a sprained left ankle, is one of seven players who have been declared out for tonight’s game against New York, while Jackson is listed as doubtful with a right knee contusion.
  • Vince Williamsnew contract with the Grizzlies is valued at $9.1MM over four years, according to Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link), with the first three seasons guaranteed at $6.6MM. The fourth year is a team option.

Grizzlies Notes: Morant, Jackson, Smart, Kennard

After being diagnosed with a torn labrum that will require season-ending surgery, Grizzlies guard Ja Morant told his teammates in an “emotional” meeting on Tuesday to “stay locked in and keep grinding,” Desmond Bane tells Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

The Grizzlies, who were also missing reigning Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr. due to a right knee contusion, responded on Tuesday with an impressive 120-103 victory in Dallas, their third straight road win over a Western Conference rival. Head coach Taylor Jenkins called it “one of the most impressive team wins of the season,” per MacMahon.

“We have nothing to lose,” guard Marcus Smart said. “Especially without Ja, everybody’s counting us out. Everybody’s expecting us to just lay down and quit, and that’s not what this team is about and not in our heart.

“… We’re going to fight. That’s all we can do. That’s what we know. We’re going to fight until we can’t fight no more. And that’s all you can ask — for you fight to the end, because we understood that coming into the season the odds against us and things have affected our team. We understood that this might not be a year where everything is expected of us, but it’s a year for us to damn well get right for next year as well.”

As his Grizzlies teammates look to continue battling for a play-in spot without him, Morant is in the process of deciding – along with the Grizzlies’ staff – which surgeon will perform his shoulder surgery, according to MacMahon.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Smart exited Tuesday’s win in the third quarter due to a dislocated right ring finger. The finger isn’t broken, but Smart will undergo an MRI when the team returns to Memphis, tweets Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com.
  • Speaking to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal, orthopedic surgeon Brian Schulz explains how a labral tear occurs and what Morant’s recovery process will look like. According to Schulz, while Morant will be able to begin physical therapy almost immediately following his surgery, a typical return-to-play timeline for this sort of injury is approximately six months, which is why the club has already ruled him out for the season.
  • ESPN’s experts take a look at how Morant’s injury will impact the team, with Kevin Pelton pointing out that drafting in the 2024 lottery could put Memphis in position to add another young player to its long-term core at a relatively team-friendly price. Bobby Marks, meanwhile, notes that next year’s roster projects to be in the tax if Luke Kennard‘s team option is exercised, which could impact the Grizzlies’ trade deadline plans with Kennard and/or others on the roster.
  • Mark Deeks of HoopsHype explores what the Grizzlies could do with the disabled player exception they’re likely to be granted as a result of Morant’s injury, and explains why that exception is more likely to simply expire without being used.