Marcus Smart

Grizzlies’ Derrick Rose, Ziaire Williams Unlikely To Return This Season

Injured Grizzlies point guard Derrick Rose and forward Ziaire Williams aren’t expected to return to action this season, according to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Rose, who last played on February 28, has been sidelined due to right groin issue and lower back recovery. Williams hasn’t suited up since March 2 due to a lower back injury of his own, as well as a hip flexor strain.

“They’re doing well,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said on Friday. “Most likely they’re not going to be coming back by the end of the season. We’re just kind of taking it day to day.”

As Cole notes, Ja Morant is the only Grizzlies player who has officially been ruled out for the rest of the season. There also has been no indication that Marcus Smart (finger) is on track to play again this spring. However, the team isn’t simply shutting down all of its injured players despite its 24-49 record.

Brandon Clarke made his season debut on Wednesday after spending more than a year recovering from an Achilles tear. Memphis also remains hopeful that Vince Williams (knee) and John Konchar (heel) will play again before the regular season concludes on April 14, says Cole.

The banged-up Grizzlies have qualified for multiple hardship exceptions in recent weeks due to all their injuries. If Morant, Rose, Williams, and Smart are the only four players they don’t expect back in the season’s final two weeks, they’ll only qualify for a single hardship exception going forward, giving them the ability to carry one extra player rather than two.

Grizzlies’ Bane, Smart To Remain Out For Multiple Weeks

The Grizzlies will continue to be without guards Desmond Bane and Marcus Smart for several more weeks, the team announced in a press release.

Bane is progressing well from a Grade 3 left ankle sprain he suffered on Jan. 12 game against the Clippers. He is expected to return to play during the next three-to-five weeks, per the Grizzlies.

Bane was in the midst of a career year prior to the injury, averaging 24.4 points, 5.3 assists and 4.6 rebounds in 37 games.

Smart, who sustained a left finger/hand injury during a Jan. 9 game against the Mavericks, will continue to wear a splint for another three weeks, per that club. He will be reevaluated at that three-week mark.

Acquired from the Celtics during the offseason, Smart is averaging 14.5 points and 4.3 assists in 20 starts with Memphis.

The injury-ravaged Grizzlies return Friday from the All-Star break with a 20-36 mark, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Smart is eventually shut down.

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.

Celtics Notes: Tillman, Porzingis, Springer, Buyout Market

When they were teammates with the Grizzlies, Xavier Tillman used to ask Marcus Smart about the experience of playing in Boston, never expecting to get the opportunity to do so himself before the end of the season, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Seeking help in the frontcourt, the Celtics acquired Tillman from Memphis on Wednesday in exchange for Lamar Stevens and a pair of second-round picks. He’s looking forward to experiencing first-hand everything Smart said about Boston fans.

“The main thing he told me is it’s very similar to Memphis in terms of the grit and the grind and how hard you have to work for the fans and appreciation and stuff like that,” Tillman said. “And once you do show that you’re willing to hustle, they’re going love you. I love it.”

The Celtics had their eye on Tillman for several years and considered selecting him in the 2020 draft, Himmelsbach adds. Memphis took him with the 35th overall pick, and he has built a reputation as a hard worker and versatile defender during his four NBA seasons.

“It’s crazy, to be honest with you,” Tillman said. “I’ve always watched the Celtics in terms of just the winning history of it, back with [Kevin Garnett] and all that stuff and seeing these guys repeatedly go to the Eastern Conference finals all the time, I’m always locked in on that. So for me to get the opportunity to be part of a winning organization, it’s pretty awesome.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Kristaps Porzingis wasn’t upset about being passed over as an injury replacement for the All-Star Game, Himmelsbach adds. Trae Young and Scottie Barnes were selected this week to take the place of Joel Embiid and Julius Randle. “Of course there’s some prestige in that and maybe five years ago that was something that was always on my mind, but it doesn’t change anything,” Porzingis said. “To be honest there’s a big part of me that’s kind of happy I can go to Miami or somewhere where there’s sun, get some tan, lift some weights, prepare my body for the rest of the season and then postseason.”
  • President of basketball operations Brad Stevens had been hoping to acquire Jaden Springer from the Sixers since watching him when their teams met in the preseason, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Stevens got his chance when Philadelphia opted to unload the 21-year-old guard to create more financial flexibility and add an extra second-round pick. Weiss notes that Stevens also faced an urgency to add talent before the deadline because of the limitations that will be placed on teams above the tax apron starting this summer.
  • A Celtics reunion with Danilo Gallinari appears unlikely, Brian Robb of MassLive states in a mailbag column. The Pistons waived Gallinari on Friday, but Robb believes his mobility is still affected by last year’s ACL tear, causing teams to target him on defense. Robb views Otto Porter as a more desirable option if he reaches a buyout with the Jazz, but he cautions that Boston would face competition from several teams.

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.

Celtics Notes: Trade Market, Tillman, Pritchard, Smart

After agreeing to acquire Xavier Tillman from Memphis in exchange for Lamar Stevens and a pair of second-round picks, the Celtics are likely to make another move before Thursday’s trade deadline, league sources tell Brian Robb of

Although the Celtics aren’t exactly loaded with trade assets, they remain well positioned to make another smaller move. Boston still controls six future second-round picks, and sending Stevens to the Grizzlies meant the club didn’t have to touch its $6.2MM trade exception in the Tillman deal. The C’s also still have an open spot on their 15-man roster.

As Robb writes, president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has been open about his desire to add more wing depth, and the fact that the team was willing to give up Stevens may signal that an addition at that spot is coming.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Souichi Terada of takes a look at the Celtics’ roster and depth chart after the Tillman trade and considers what might be next for the club.
  • Before news of the Tillman deal broke, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston previewed the trade deadline for the Celtics. While he acknowledged that a smaller move or two is most likely, Forsberg made the case that the front office should seriously explore the possibility of taking a bigger swing, given that Boston could have an opportunity to solidify its place as a title favorite. Forsberg named Alex Caruso and Deni Avdija as two players worth looking into.
  • After not being dealt at the 2023 trade deadline, Payton Pritchard admitted to being disappointed, since he didn’t have the kind of role he wanted in Boston. One year later, he’s averaging a career-high 20.8 minutes per night as a crucial part of the Celtics’ rotation after signing an extension in October. “It’s funny the difference a year will make,” Pritchard said this week, per Jay King of The Athletic. “At the end of the day, it was always the same thing. I wanted to be able to play and be able to play every game. And sweat out there. And really feel like I’m contributing. Fortunately enough, on this team, this year, I feel like I have a role to help the team win.”
  • Former Celtics guard Marcus Smart wasn’t available to play on Sunday when the Grizzlies visited Boston, but he got a tribute video and was showered with loving chants by the fans at TD Garden, as King writes at The Athletic. “I’m surprised he didn’t cry, because that was special,” Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said. “He was the fan favorite and everybody knew that. The way he played, he wore his heart on his sleeve and every night, he gave it his all. We have some very smart fans, right, and they saw that and they appreciated that. So, it was just really cool to see. I’m happy for him.”

Fischer’s Latest: Carter, Brogdon, Smart, Hawks, Jones, Hornets

While there will likely be plenty of trades completed between now and next Thursday’s deadline, many of the players whom rival teams had hoped would hit the market aren’t expected to be available this season, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

As Fischer details, that list of players who are believed to be off-limits includes several current and former All-Stars, such as Lauri Markkanen, Donovan Mitchell, Jarrett Allen, and Karl-Anthony Towns. It also features talented forwards Mikal Bridges and Jerami Grant, as well as rising talent Jonathan Kuminga.

Fischer isn’t the first to report that those players likely won’t be on the move at the deadline, so no names in that group come as real surprises. However, Fischer adds a few more players to the list of unlikely trade candidates, writing that Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. is no longer considered available and citing league personnel who are skeptical that the Trail Blazers will part with Malcolm Brogdon.

Additionally, while a handful of clubs – including the Bucks and Lakers – have called the Grizzlies to inquire about Marcus Smart, according to Fischer, Memphis has shown no interest in moving the veteran guard, who remains in the team’s plans beyond this season.

Here are a few more trade-related notes and rumors from Fischer:

  • The Hawks are viewed by rival executives as the most “active and aggressive” team in the trade market, with Dejounte Murray, Clint Capela, De’Andre Hunter, and AJ Griffin among the players who could be moved. While previous reports have indicated that Trae Young and Jalen Johnson are Atlanta’s only two untouchable players, Fischer says the club values Bogdan Bogdanovic as highly as any player on its roster outside of Young and Johnson.
  • Even though the Wizards are seeking a first-round pick for Tyus Jones, rival executives are confident that Washington will ultimately accept a package consisting of multiple second-rounders for the veteran point guard, per Fischer. Jones is on an expiring contract and wouldn’t be a starter on many teams, so a first-rounder would be a high price to pay.
  • Hornets forward P.J. Washington and center Nick Richards are generating a good deal of interest from potential trade partners, league sources tell Fischer. Kyle Lowry, Gordon Hayward, and Miles Bridges are among Charlotte’s other trade candidates.
  • We also passed along several of Fischer’s trade rumors related to Western Conference teams in a separate article.

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Porzingis, Celtics, Embiid

Returning to Brooklyn Wednesday for the first time since being traded last February, Suns forward Kevin Durant didn’t feel like speculating on how his time with the Nets might have turned out differently, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Although he talked briefly about his raucous tenure with the team, Durant preferred to look forward rather than backward.

“I mean, that’s just a pointless exercise, in my opinion, to think about what could have been,” Durant said. “What happened. That’s what I thought about: what actually happened. The reality of it. We didn’t have enough time together. That’s just it. Guys wanted to go their separate ways. We tried our hardest to, you know, salvage everything and everything together. We had three or four different teams [from] when I signed here until when I left. But at the end of the day, I enjoyed coming to work, playing for, being a part of this community and playing, representing Brooklyn; regardless of what went on, what was said or how I felt, I still came to work.”

Durant was expected to make the Nets one of the NBA’s elite franchises when he and Kyrie Irving signed as free agents in 2019. He continued to play at an All-Star level after recovering from a torn Achilles, but injuries and off-court issues prevented the team from reaching its potential, even after James Harden was added in a 2021 trade. Bontemps notes that although Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal are in their first season as teammates, they’ve already played more games together than Durant, Irving and Harden did.

“If you want to talk about me individually, you can just look at the work that I put in here,” Durant added. “I think I’ve grown as a player. I’m on my way to mastering the game. I think coming here helped me, pushed me far closer to that. So that’s what I try to take from my time here.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The offseason trade for Kristaps Porzingis has raised the Celtics to a new level, observes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Porzingis, who was training in Spain when the trade was announced, said he understood how much he meant to the Celtics when he learned they were willing to include Marcus Smart in the deal. “I didn’t know it was going to be [Smart] in the trade, but seeing what they were going to give up for me, I realized that ‘OK, they really wanted me,'” he said. “That means that they expect a lot from me, also. So I have to show up.”
  • The Celtics are expected to seek another bench piece before the trade deadline, but the improved performance of the team’s reserves may lessen the urgency for such a move, observes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston.
  • Derek Bodner of PHLY Sports (subscription required) examines Joel Embiid‘s historic accomplishments this season and the “absurd” reaction to the Sixers‘ decision to hold him out of Saturday’s game at Denver.

Marcus Smart Out At Least Six Weeks With Finger Injury

Veteran guard Marcus Smart has suffered a “severe” injury to his right ring finger and is out at least six weeks for the Grizzlies, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Memphis confirmed the news in a press release (Twitter link), saying that Smart sustained a “rupture of the proximal interphalangeal joint central slip” in Tuesday’s game vs. Dallas. He’ll be reevaluated in six weeks, per the team.

The 2022 Defensive Player of the Year has only made 20 appearances in ’23/24, which is his first season with the Grizzlies after being acquired in an offseason trade. He missed 17 games with a left foot sprain.

Statistically, Smart is all over the map this season. He’s averaging career highs in points (14.5) and steals per game (2.1), but rebounding at a career-worst rate (2.7), averaging his fewest assists in eight seasons (4.3), and turning the ball over more than ever before (3.1) in a higher-usage role with Ja Morant missing most of the season due to suspension.

Morant will miss the remainder of ’23/24 after undergoing shoulder surgery, and now Smart will be sidelined through at least mid-February. Obviously, Smart’s injury is yet another unfortunate turn of events for a team that has been decimated by injuries to key players.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, the Grizzlies can apply for a hardship exception with Morant, Smart, Steven Adams (knee surgery) and Brandon Clarke (Achilles recovery) out with long-term injuries. The exception would be granted after Monday’s game and would create an extra roster spot; it’s worth noting that Memphis signed former Minnesota guard Jaylen Nowell to a pair of 10-day hardship deals earlier this season (Shaquille Harrison also received one 10-day contract).

Recently-promoted wing Vince Williams is a candidate to take on more defensive assignments with Smart injured, while other young players like David Roddy, Ziaire Williams and Jacob Gilyard could receive more minutes.

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
  • 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.