Killian Tillie

Grizzlies Waive Killian Tillie, Pick Up Options On Three Players

The Grizzlies have officially completed a series of roster moves, setting their roster for the 2022/23 regular season and picking up multiple rookie scale options for ’23/24.

Most notably, Memphis has waived big man Killian Tillie, whose expiring $1,901,625 salary is fully guaranteed. Tillie has spent the last two seasons with the Grizzlies, averaging 3.3 PPG and 1.7 RPG in 36 games (12.8 MPG) in 2021/22.

The Grizzlies had 16 players with fully or partially guaranteed contracts, so one of them had to be cut to get to the 15-man regular season limit. Tillie, who will still receive his full salary, was the odd man out, as the club opted to keep Danny Green while he recovers from an ACL tear.

Memphis also waived Dakota Mathias, who was signed to an Exhibit 10 contract earlier in the week for G League purposes. Mathias is expected to report to the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ NBAGL affiliate.

The Grizzlies also announced today that they’ve exercised their 2023/24 team options on Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, and Santi Aldama. All three players will now have guaranteed salaries for ’23/24, with Bane earning $3,845,083, Williams earning $4,810,200, and Aldama making $2,194,200.

The moves had been expected, since Bane, Williams, and Aldama all appear set to play regular rotation roles for Memphis this coming season.

Western Notes: Suns, Durant, Green, Tillie, Holmgren, Mitchell

Suns coach Monty Williams never discussed the Kevin Durant trade rumors with his players, he said during an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio (hat tip to Dana Scott of the Arizona Republic).

“When I first heard about the Kevin Durant stuff, I was kind of blown away by it just because, you know, we’ve been so blessed here to have guys want to come,” Williams said. “At the same time, ‘At the expense of what?’ was my thinking. And I like our team. I love our guys. But I wasn’t going to have conversations that didn’t need to be had.”

Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder were among the names speculated as part of the talks between Brooklyn and Phoenix.

“I think our guys are mature enough to understand that part of our business,” Williams said. “I didn’t want to have conversations about stuff that didn’t need to be brought up.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Danny Green‘s contract may be the reason he makes the Grizzlies’ roster, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. Green is on the roster bubble as he recovers from a torn ACL that will likely keep him out of action until at least the second half of the season. However, his expiring $10MM contract is one of the team’s best trade chips. Forward Killian Tillie may be the odd man out if Green isn’t traded, though he could still find his way onto the roster due to his shooting ability and position versatility.
  • Thunder big man Chet Holmgren, declared out for the season due to a foot injury suffered during a pro-am event, is hardly the first high-profile rookie in that predicament, Drew Maresca of Basketball News notes. Joel Embiid, Blake Griffin, Nerlens Noel, Michael Porter Jr. and Ben Simmons were some of the other highly-touted prospects who had to sit out a full year due to injuries.
  • The Jazz are reportedly trying to get the best offer for Donovan Mitchell prior to training camp and Sarah Todd of the Deseret News believes that’s a wise approach. She notes that Utah isn’t out to win this coming season, so there’s no reason to keep the All-Star on the roster, while the team that acquires him will want him to build chemistry with his new teammates. It would avoid the awkwardness of having Mitchell in their camp while trade rumors swirl.

Southwest Notes: Josh Green, Rockets, Grizzlies

After being benched during last season’s playoff run, Mavericks wing Josh Green is working diligently on his game to try to stay in the lineup as much as possible going forward, according to Alex Kennedy of BasketballNews.

I think the biggest thing for me is just realizing what I need to do to help the team out; I’m not trying to work on stuff that I’m not gonna do in a game,” Green said. “And I’m coming in with full confidence, knowing what I need to do and being ready to go. I’m more motivated than ever.”

The 18th pick of the 2020 draft, Green averaged 4.8 PPG and 2.4 RPG on .508/.359/.689 shooting in 67 games (15.5 MPG) last season. Still just 21 years old, Green says he’s feeling self-assured entering his third season.

My confidence is high, man. I’m ready to go, and I can’t wait for next year,” Green said, per Kennedy. “Coach (Jason) Kidd really helped me out last year, and he has a lot of trust in me, so now it’s just about me going forward and continuing to develop and show what I can do. I’m on a veteran team — a very good team — so for me, it’s just about doing what I can do to impress and just play like I usually play.”

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Assuming Eric Gordon remains on the roster entering training camp, he should be the starting small forward for the Rockets, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Houston’s starting lineup projects to be Kevin Porter Jr., Jalen Green, Gordon, Jabari Smith Jr. and Alperen Sengun, according to Iko, with the first five reserves possibly being Daishen Nix, Josh Christopher, Tari Eason, Jae’Sean Tate and Usman Garuba. Iko notes that Tate, who has started 135 of his 148 NBA games to this point, will likely be the team’s sixth man and receive significant playing time. Noticeably absent from the projected 10-man rotation is Kenyon Martin Jr., who requested a trade last month due for that very reason, and Iko says rival teams continue to keep an eye on Martin’s situation with the Rockets.
  • Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal grades each of the Grizzlies‘ Summer League performances, giving undrafted rookie Kenneth Lofton Jr.who is signed to a two-way contract, an A. Lofton’s low-post scoring could provide something the current roster doesn’t have, Cole notes. On the other end of the spectrum is first-rounder Jake LaRavia, who received a C-minus from Cole due to his offensive passivity.
  • As we noted yesterday, the Grizzlies are among the teams facing a roster crunch entering training camp. In a separate story, Cole writes that Danny Green and Killian Tillie are likely to be the most vulnerable members of the roster at the moment, and if Lofton gets promoted to a standard deal, perhaps both of them could be traded or released.

Grizzlies Notes: Morant, Anderson, Brooks, Jackson

Taking into account both regular season games and postseason contests, the Grizzlies now have a 21-6 record without Ja Morant this season, and that mark may actually understate how well they’ve played without their All-Star point guard, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic. Sixteen of those 21 wins have been by double-digits, including a 73-point rout of Oklahoma City in December.

The Grizzlies’ depth is one reason why they’ve been so effective when Morant has been unavailable, and the point guard’s subpar defensive numbers are another, Hollinger observes. The Grizzlies gave up more points per possession with Morant on the court than with any other single player on the court this season.

However, digging further into the data, Hollinger unearths several more interesting details, including Dillon Brooks‘ positive impact on the Grizzlies (especially defensively) and how infrequently he and Morant played together this season. The Grizzlies’ performance with and without Morant has also been skewed by their opponents’ shooting luck, which is one reason why Hollinger, unsurprisingly, concludes the team isn’t actually better off without the 22-year-old.

Interestingly, Hollinger’s data shows that the Grizzlies have actually played well with no true point guard on the court, with Kyle Anderson serving as the primary ball-handler. Hollinger suggests that could be a factor in how the team approaches Anderson’s and Tyus Jones‘ free agencies this summer.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • As expected, Morant has been officially ruled out of Friday’s Game 6 vs. Golden State due to the bone bruise in his right knee, per the Grizzlies (Twitter link). Santi Aldama (right knee soreness) and Killian Tillie (lower back procedure recovery) also remain sidelined.
  • After a 5-of-19 shooting performance with four turnovers in Game 4, Dillon Brooks bounced back in Game 5. Although he had just 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting, Brooks didn’t turn the ball over and was an eye-popping plus-38 in just 24 minutes. He suggested after the game that there’s still room for improvement. “I’m my worst critic. I know I’m playing like trash,” Brooks said, per ClutchPoints (video link). “I know I’m not shooting the three well, but I’m trying to do all the little things.”
  • Jaren Jackson Jr., who bested Brooks with a plus-42 mark in just 25 minutes on Wednesday, is realizing how dominant he can be at just the right time, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “He’s the key,” Brooks said of Jackson. “They’ve got no one to guard him. No one to stop him. He needs to keep demanding the ball and the Warriors are going to have to adjust and double-team him soon. He’s going to have to learn how to pass the ball out to get his teammates shots. That’s what he needs to do. I try to tell him to stay aggressive, and you’re a walking mismatch out there for every single player that guards you, so just keep attacking.”
  • Although the Grizzlies will be playing on the road and missing their best player, Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal isn’t convinced the team’s season will come to an end on Friday in Golden State.
  • In case you missed it, Grizzlies head of basketball operations Zach Kleiman was named the NBA’s Executive of the Year on Thursday.

COVID/Injury Notes: Batum, Hawks, J. Murray, Celtics, More

Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters, including Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), that forward Nicolas Batum will be available Friday night at Philadelphia. Batum had been placed in the health and safety protocols as a result of an inconclusive test, missing Wednesday’s 130-128 overtime loss at Denver, but obviously has been cleared by testing negative twice since.

Here are more COVID-19 and injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Hawks head coach Nate McMillan told reporters, including Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter), that starting center Clint Capela will return to action Friday night against Miami, but will be on a minutes restriction. Capela had missed Atlanta’s last six games with an ankle injury and the team went 2-4 in his absence. Spencer also tweets that the Hawks will be without Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee) and Danilo Gallinari (sore Achilles), while Gorgui Dieng will be available (non-COVID illness).
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who’s still rehabbing from a torn ACL suffered last April, has entered the health and safety protocols, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets.
  • Celtics head coach Ime Udoka told reporters that Marcus Smart and Aaron Nesmith will miss Friday’s game vs. Portland, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps (Twitter link). Smart is still ramping up his conditioning after battling COVID-19, while Nesmith is dealing with a sprained ankle.
  • Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma is out Friday vs. Toronto with a sprained neck, per Marc J. Spears of the Undefeated (via Twitter). Kuzma is having a solid first season with Washington, averaging 15.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 43 games, all starts.
  • Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley and top assistant coach Nate Tibbetts have both cleared the protocols and will be coaching Friday’s game against the Lakers, Orlando’s PR department tweets.
  • Grizzlies forward Killian Tillie has been upgraded from questionable to available for Friday’s game at Denver, so he has cleared the health and safety protocols, Memphis’ PR department tweets.

Grizzlies Sign Dakota Mathias To Second 10-Day Deal

The Grizzlies have signed guard Dakota Mathias to a second 10-day contract using a COVID-related hardship exception, the team announced today in a press release. Mathias initially signed a 10-day pact with Memphis near the end of December.

During his first 10 days with the Grizzlies, Mathias appeared in four games, but was limited to garbage-time action, logging just eight total minutes.

The 26-year-old shooting guard went undrafted out of Purdue in 2018 and spent his first professional season in Spain. He joined the Texas Legends – Dallas’ G League affiliate – for the 2019/20 campaign, then began last season on a two-way contract with the Sixers before being waived in January.

The Grizzlies announced on Thursday that big man Killian Tillie has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, joining Yves Pons. With two players in the COVID-19 protocols and no replacement players signed, Memphis qualified for a hardship exception to sign Mathias without having to open up a spot on the 15-man roster.

Mathias’ 10-day contract will pay him $85,578, but that money won’t count against the Grizzlies’ team salary for cap or tax purposes.

Southwest Notes: Bane, Tillie, Terry, Spurs, G. Green

As the 30th overall pick of the 2020 draft, Grizzlies second-year guard Desmond Bane is used to being overlooked, but he’ll always feel like he should’ve gone off the board earlier, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic.

I will never let it go,” Bane told The Athletic. “I feel like teams had their chance to get me and knew who I was. It wasn’t like I was one of those one-and-done guys. You had four years to do your research on me. All my background stuff checked out. That’s on them.”

Bane has proven to be an ideal fit with star Ja Morant, Vokunov adds. After putting up 9.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 68 games (17 starts) as a rookie, Bane has increased those numbers to 17.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists through 39 games this season. He also sports a stellar shooting line of .466/.416/.906 for the 26-14 Grizzlies, currently the No. 4 seed in the West.

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Keith Smith of Spotrac provides contract details (via Twitter) for Killian Tillie and Tyrell Terry of the Grizzlies. Tillie was promoted to a standard deal from a two-way contract last week, with Terry taking his two-way spot. Smith relays that Tillie will receive a portion of the room exception for his two-year deal, which is fully guaranteed at $1,901,625 for both 2021/22 and 2022/23, while Terry signed a two-year, two-way contract.
  • Spurs forward Keita Bates-Diop leans on an ancient philosophy to adjust to life as a NBA journeyman, especially during a pandemic, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Bates-Diop, an avid reader, utilizes Stoicism to deal with the uncertainties of life. “I’ve tried to be even-keeled throughout it all, just trusting the work without getting too emotional, too high or too low,” Bates-Diop said. “It’s all about acceptance. Accepting the things that happen, the things you can and can’t control. That was a big thing for me, separating the two.
  • Spurs rookies Joshua Primo and Joe Wieskamp performed well in a blowout loss on Tuesday, but both players know they’re going to spend more time in the G League when the team returns to full strength, Orsborn writes in a separate article for the Express-News. Coach Gregg Popovich says Primo is very mature for his young age (he just turned 19 two weeks ago). “Joshua has an uncanny maturity about him, kind of a steady demeanor,” Popovich said. “He is not awed by the NBA or anything like that. He makes good decisions. He definitely knows how to play. It’s just a matter of getting stronger and aware that these are men and they are coming after your head, so to speak. He just has to get used to that physicality and all that sort of thing.”
  • 35-year-old veteran Gerald Green, who recently decided to unretire and take another shot at the NBA, will be playing for the Rockets‘ G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Southwest Notes: Jones, Zion, Tillie, Sengun

Pelicans forward Herb Jones has been one of the surprises of this year’s rookie class, and veteran guard Garrett Temple got an early tip about his new teammate, writes Christian Clark of Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports serves as the agent for both players, and Temple said Bartelstein was raving about Jones shortly after he was selected with the 35th pick.

Jones has exceeded expectations for a second-rounder, starting 23 of the 32 games he has played and averaging 8.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks per night. He was named Defensive Player of the Year in the SEC last season, but there were questions about whether he could provide enough offense to succeed in the NBA. He has been working to develop his jump shot and is connecting at 36.6% from three-point range on 1.3 attempts per game.

“I’ve gotten to know Herb as a person,” Temple said. “He’s the epitome of a great teammate, a great person. He’s someone you want on your team. He’s going to be in the league for a very, very long time.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • There’s an assumption that the Pelicans will offer Zion Williamson a maximum extension this summer, but John Hollinger of The Athletic questions whether that’s wise considering Williamson’s injury history. The third-year forward has only played 85 total games and continues to recover from offseason foot surgery. Hollinger suggests an offer similar to Joel Embiid‘s contract, which protects the team if he can’t play a minimum number of games.
  • The Grizzlies used their room exception to sign Killian Tillie to a two-year contract, tweets Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian. The former two-way player will become a restricted free agent after the 2022/23 season.
  • Rockets rookie center Alperen Sengun may face an extended absence after spraining his right ankle in Friday’s game, according to Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston (Twitter link). “It’s not day-to-day,” coach Stephen Silas said. “It’s probably about a week and then we’ll see.”

Grizzlies Give Two-Year Deal To Tillie, Waive Merrill, Sign Terry To Two-Way

6:30pm: The moves are official, the Grizzlies announced (Twitter links).

6:10pm: Two-way player Killian Tillie will sign a standard contract with the Grizzlies, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The second-year big man will get a deal worth $4MM over two years.

Tillie signed a two-way contract after going undrafted out of Gonzaga in 2020, then inked another two-way deal in August. He’s averaging 3.4 points and 1.7 rebounds in 22 games this season, but his playing time has increased recently with the Grizzlies short-handed due to health and safety protocols.

Memphis will open a roster spot by waiving injured guard Sam Merrill, Woj adds (Twitter link). Merrill will undergo a surgical procedure on his left ankle that will keep him out of action for three to four months, sources tell Wojnarowski.

A rookie with the Bucks last year, Merrill was acquired by the Grizzlies in an offseason trade. He only appeared in six games for Memphis, averaging 4.2 PPG in 9.7 minutes per night, and last played on November 18. The move will include a $1.5MM cap hit, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). Wojnarowski adds that the Grizzlies believe Merrill has potential and may consider bringing him back once he’s healed.

The open two-way slot will be filled by guard Tyrell Terry, who signed as a hardship player last week, adds Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Terry has made two brief appearances since coming to Memphis, playing a combined three minutes.

Grizzlies Re-Sign Killian Tillie To Two-Way Contract

The Grizzlies have officially re-signed free agent forward/center Killian Tillie to a two-way contract, the team announced today in a press release.

Tillie, who went undrafted out of Gonzaga in 2020, caught on quickly with Memphis last fall, signing a two-way deal with the team in November. He played sparingly for the NBA club as a rookie, averaging 3.2 PPG and 1.3 RPG in 18 games (10.1 MPG), but made enough an impression to earn a qualifying offer from the team prior to free agency.

That qualifying offer, which made Tillie a restricted free agent, was equivalent to another two-way deal with a $50K partial guarantee. It’s unclear if the 23-year-old simply accepted his QO or if he and the team negotiated a new agreement with a more significant guarantee.

Either way, Tillie now occupies one of Memphis’ two-way contract slots. Sean McDermott currently holds the other, as our tracker shows.