1:48pm: The Grizzlies have officially announced their series of roster moves, including a two-way deal for guard Jacob Gilyard, which was first reported by Wojnarowski (Twitter link).
An undrafted rookie in 2022, Gilyard spent the season with the Memphis Hustle in the G League and led the NBAGL in assists per game (9.7). He’ll occupy the two-way slot previously held by Lofton, while Lofton moves into the 15-man roster spot that had been held by Chandler.
12:39pm: The Grizzlies are promoting rookie two-way forward Kenneth Lofton Jr. to their standard roster, and will sign him to a four-year, $7MM contract, Lofton’s agent Mike George informs Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter).
Lofton was recently named the 2022/23 G League Rookie of the Year. With the Grizzlies’ G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle, he averaged 20.2 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.2 SPG and 0.6 BPG across 17 games, including 15 starts.
The 6’7″ power forward has appeared in 23 games for the Grizzlies proper, posting modest averages of 3.4 PPG, 1.6 RPG and 0.9 SPG in 5.9 MPG.
Woj notes that Lofton is being inked to Memphis’ standard 15-man roster in part to address the absence of center Steven Adams, who is reportedly likely to miss the entire 2023 postseason due to the lingering effects of his right knee injury. Adams is one of two key big men unavailable for the Grizzlies — reserve power forward Brandon Clarke tore his Achilles in early March.
Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian tweets that Lofton, who would have entered restricted agency this summer if not for his new deal, has impressed the Grizzlies with his development thus far this season.
To carve out roster space for Lofton, Memphis is releasing rookie guard Kennedy Chandler, sources inform Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).
Chandler, 20, was selected with the No. 38 pick in the 2022 draft out of Tennessee. As Charania notes, Chandler had been on a long-term agreement with the club, and should now garner significant attention on the waiver wire or as a free agent if he manages to clear waivers.
Herrington adds (via Twitter) that Chandler flashed promise with his ball-handling and defense this season, and may be a better fit on a team that will have more patience as he develops. The 51-30 Grizzlies are clearly prioritizing win-now pieces.
Memphis will be on the hook for Chandler’s guaranteed cap hits in 2023/24 ($1.72MM) and ’24/25 ($2.02MM) if he goes unclaimed on waivers.