Steven Adams

Rockets Notes: Offseason, Green, Sengun, Draft, Brooks, Landale

The Rockets made major changes to their roster during the 2023 offseason, bringing in top free agents like Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks. However, general manage Rafael Stone‘s comments this week suggest the team anticipates a quieter summer this time around, with a focus on internal improvement rather than outside additions, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required).

“I like my team,” Stone said. “So, I think potentially, we’re just bringing back everybody that we have. It doesn’t mean we won’t look at things, but I don’t think we’re sitting here today feeling like, ‘Oh we need to go get X’ at all.”

As Stone pointed out, the Rockets acquired injured center Steven Adams at the trade deadline and saw Alperen Sengun and Tari Eason go down with season-ending injuries of their own. Simply getting those three players on the court should go a long way toward fortifying the roster, which Stone described as “well-rounded” with “lots of talented players.”

The biggest decisions of the Rockets’ offseason might be whether to lock up Jalen Green and Sengun to long-term deals or to take a wait-and-see approach with those contract situations. Both players will be eligible for rookie scale extensions in July.

“The way the CBA is set up, you can extend — you don’t have to,” Stone said. “And you can always revisit next summer. We’ll have conversations, we’ll see what makes sense for us, what makes sense for them, and then both sides will end up making whatever decisions we make. But not feeling like it’s a burden or a crushing pressure or anything like that.”

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Houston will likely lose its own first-round pick to Oklahoma City, but controls a lottery selection via Brooklyn. Stone acknowledged that the team could explore trade possibilities with that first-rounder, given all the young players already on the roster, per Feigen. “We have to do the evaluation of the whole draft. One rule of thumb is, if you can get a really special player, you get him,” Stone said. “You can’t control the timing so anytime you can do it, you just do it. The flip side is we’re extraordinarily excited about our young guys now. There’s not an obvious source of minutes for anybody coming in. That applies equally well, maybe even more so, to a veteran coming in.”
  • Despite missing the postseason this spring for the first time since 2020, Dillon Brooks has no regrets about his decision to sign a long-term contract with the Rockets as a free agent last summer, according to Feigen (subscription required). “I feel good about my choice,” Brooks said. “I want to grow with these guys. I want to get Houston back where it needs to be.”
  • Another one of the Rockets’ 2023 free agent signees, Jock Landale expressed a similar sentiment to Brooks despite struggling for much of the season and not reclaiming a regular rotation role until March. “It was obviously rough early on. It was just about sticking with it and learning more about myself. No regrets at all,” Landale said, adding that he has made “lifelong friends” in Houston.
  • The NBA didn’t make any sort of announcement regarding Alperen Sengun‘s end-of-season award eligibility, but John Hollinger of The Athletic hears that the Rockets center was listed on the ballots sent out to voters by the league. A potential Most Improved Player candidate, Sengun played in 63 games before suffering a leg injury that ended his season. Based on the language of the 65-game rule, he’s award-eligible if an independent doctor determined the injury would likely sideline him through May 31.

Southwest Notes: Gafford, Lively, Wembanyama, Adams, Pippen

Head coach Jason Kidd may consider changing the starting lineup or tightening his 10-man rotation to help pull the Mavericks out of their current tailspin, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

The Mavs have dropped their last five games by an average of 14.6 points and have the worst defensive rating in the league by a wide margin since the All-Star break. Townsend says Kidd “bristled” when asked if changes were needed before Tuesday’s game, but he was more open to the possibility after watching his team give up 137 points in a home loss to Indiana.

“We can look at different rotations,” he said. “We can look at different starting lineups. … We have options and we’ll explore those.”

Townsend suggests starting Daniel Gafford at center instead of rookie Dereck Lively II as an obvious change. Gafford had 16 points and 10 rebounds off the bench against the Pacers, while Lively went scoreless and struggled on defense against Myles Turner.

“We’ve got a 20-year-old who’s starting at center and has never seen this before,” Kidd said. “… And there’s a rookie wall. He’s a young man who’s seeing the NBA for the first time. There’s gonna be ups and downs. But that’s why it’s called a team. And that’s why Gafford picked him up tonight. … Lively’s had a heck of a rookie season, and he’s going to only get better, but he could be tired. He’s never played this many games or minutes.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Victor Wembanyama will miss his seventh game of the season Thursday at Sacramento, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. The Spurs rookie sprained his right ankle at some point during Tuesday’s loss at Houston, and he was listed as questionable coming into that game with soreness in his left shoulder.
  • Steven Adams visited his new Rockets teammates this week for the first time since being acquired in a trade with Memphis last month, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Adams is out for the rest of the season after having knee surgery in October, but he’s expected to be fully recovered and ready for training camp by fall. Adams said his doctors still have to determine a more definite recovery timeline. “(The next step) has to be cleared by a few different medical professionals because if it was up to me, I’d be behind a long time,” he said. “’Oh yeah, I can do this,’ but then ruin myself. It’s up to the surgeons, the one who did the surgery and also medical people I trust.”
  • The Grizzlies could have Scotty Pippen Jr. back on the court by next week, tweets Michael Wallace of The second-year point guard, who signed a two-way contract with Memphis in January, has been out of action since February 12 with a bulging disc in his lower back.

Rockets’ Stone Discusses Adams Deal, Green, Deadline Talks

After the Rockets acquired Steven Adams a week before the trade deadline in a move with next season in mind, the front office had plenty of discussions about deals that would’ve helped the team more in the short term, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). According to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, Houston kicked the tires on players like Kelly Olynyk, Andre Drummond, Jericho Sims, and Xavier Tillman, among others, but couldn’t find a trade that worked for both sides.

“We certainly weren’t going to do something that would hurt us on a going-forward basis,” general manager Rafael Stone said. “The moves we were the most excited about were moves where we thought that could help us in the short term and also the long term, the moves subsequent to (the trade for) Steven.
We were very excited about acquiring Steven. Subsequently, a lot of the ones we had long discussions about were moves that would have provided elements this year maybe that we don’t have, as well as stuff for the future.

“But they didn’t happen, and we’re fine with that. We like our group, and this gives everybody on our current roster an opportunity to shine.”

If the Rockets had wanted to make a more significant deal, it would’ve likely required them to part with a player from their young core: Alperen Sengun, Jalen Green, Jabari Smith, Tari Eason, Amen Thompson, or Cam Whitmore. But Stone said the team wasn’t looking to move on from any of those youngsters, adding that he and head coach Ime Udoka were in agreement on the deals they pursued and those they didn’t.

“We’re looking at the long term more so than anything,” Udoka said. “When you have that many young, talented players, you want to see what they become and not rush to judgment on anything.
As far as those guys, everyone’s going to check in when you have this amount of young talent. We’re trying to win. We’re in the development and winning stage at the same time, so people checked in. We knew they would. They are talented young guys, and we have some duplicated positions there. We like what we’re seeing from those guys and want to see what we are as a whole unit.”

Here are a few more of Stone’s most notable comments from Monday’s post-deadline media session:

On the acquisition of Adams:

“I think we got a really high-level basketball player. A guy who’s been a dominant rebounding force in the NBA for the last five, six years. One of the best defenders in the NBA. We obviously feel great with Alperen, but now we have two truly starter-level centers next year. Depth is extraordinarily important. On top of that, he’s a very different player and will be a good complement on and off the court for our group.”

On the long-term fit of Jalen Green, whose name popped up in some predeadline rumors:

“Jalen has been and continues to be, on paper, a great fit with us. He has a skill set that isn’t really replicated on our roster. My expectation of him – and he knows this, and I think he echoed in his postgame comments – my expectation is that the defense, which has gotten better, is still going to get a lot better. That the physicality and the efficiency are all going to get better. He needs to take those steps. That’s extraordinarily important. He’s aware of it. We’re aware of it. And that’s the challenge for him and for us.”

On Stone’s assessment of his own job performance in the past year:

“I’m happy with the choices we made. I think for the most part, we’ve gotten what we want. And the additions of Fred (VanVleet) and Dillon (Brooks) were necessary and really important. I like that we brought Boban (Marjanovic) back. I like that we have Jeff (Green). I love the hire of Ime. And then I think we did well drafting Cam and Amen. So we had a very successful offseason, which set us up to make the right steps for this season.

“But I would say for myself, similar to our young guys, it’s not good enough. And so they need to improve. Our front office — not just me, all of us, our coaching staff, all of us — we’ve got to continue on the grind and make sure the choices we make between now and the end of the season, the ones in the offseason all set us up to have the best possible chance to win a championship in the short term. Not meaning like a year or two, but not 20 years either. And that’s very much our goal. And my goal.”

Southwest Notes: Williamson, Wembanyama, Adams, Irving, Doncic

Zion Williamson scored the game-winning layup against the Spurs on Friday night. Afterward, the Pelicans forward lavished praise on Victor Wembanyama, who finished the game with 16 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and two steals.

“Vic is a very special player,” Williamson said of the Spurs rookie, per ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “We were just talking about it in the locker room. He’s a dude that can get two or three Defensive Player of the Years and also, I don’t want to put a limit on it, but he can get Defensive Player of the Year and MVPs. We haven’t seen nothing like that. We’ve seen things close, but not like that. He’s an amazing player. Especially with [Spurs coach Gregg Popovich] over there, he’ll continue to develop.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Wembanyama played 27 minutes against Cleveland on Saturday the second night of a back-to-back and appeared visibly fatigued at times coming off the floor, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News noted. The Spurs big man admits the NBA grind is starting to wear on him. “I’m glad my body’s healthy, even though it’s hard,” Wembanyama said. “It’s not giving me any red flags. Of course, I like everything, the conditioning to be perfect, but you got to pick your battle.” He has also battled allergies in recent days. “My immune system is also impacted,” Wembanyama said.
  • The Rockets’ acquisition of Steven Adams shows they are determined to make deals for their long-range impact, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes. Adams is out for the remainder of this season but will give Houston a quality backup center behind Alperen Şengün. It’s highly unlikely the Rockets will pursue a star-level player before the trade deadline, especially since they included Victor Oladipo’s contract in the Adams deal. They are also cautious about acquiring players who would take minutes away from rookies Cam Whitmore and Amen Thompson.
  • Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving is listed as questionable for Monday’s game against Philadelphia, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. Irving has missed the last six games with a sprained right thumb. Luka Doncic is also questionable after aggravating his sore right ankle.

Rockets Notes: Whitmore, Thompson, Brooks, Adams, Eason, VanVleet

The Rockets got 83 of their 135 points from players who are 21 or younger in a Friday win against the Raptors, observes Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen. Rookies Cam Whitmore (25 points) and Amen Thompson (19 points) both secured career highs in the victory, putting an exclamation point on impressive recent stretches for both players.

Whitmore has scored 104 points in 109 minutes over the past five games and became the second-youngest player behind Kobe Bryant to score at least 25 points in 25 or fewer minutes, according to Feigen. He wasn’t named to the Rising Stars Event, but since the start of January, Whitmore is averaging 13.8 points per game. This comes after the 19-year-old slipped to No. 20 after draft night after long having been viewed as a probable lottery pick.

The Rising Stars, draft, everything, it goes on,” Whitmore said. “I feel like I’m underrated, to be honest.

The Rockets are currently just outside the play-in picture at 23-25, but they’ve already surpassed last season’s total of 22 wins. Three of their five starters (Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith) are 21 or younger.

We know what we have going forward,” head coach Ime Udoka said. “We just, as much as we can, want to expedite the process. I think everyone is showing growth and progress this year. Can’t wait to see what they become. We do have a bunch of guys that we love. They’re taking the next step in front of our eyes.

We have more Rockets notes:

  • Swingman Dillon Brooks is excited to have former Grizzlies teammate Steven Adams on board after the Rockets acquired him this week, according to Feigen. “[Adams] was super excited,” Brooks said. “I told him, Houston is a great place. He’ll love it. He asked me about Ime. Told him, ‘Ime’s a players’ coach. Everything is for the players.’ That’s what he’s really about because he has his own routine, his own stuff to get himself ready. He’s got a lot to teach.” Brooks and Udoka raved about the physicality Adams can bring to the Rockets once he gets healthy.
  • Following a solid start to the season, forward Tari Eason hasn’t played since Jan. 1 due to a leg injury. He could be cleared to play as soon as next week, Feigen writes in another piece, and he reflected on the recovery process. “It’s been difficult, I’d say mentally, probably more than anything, just dealing with being out and having to watch the guys play and stuff like that,” Eason said. “It’s been hard, especially because I’ve never really been in a position like this. But there’s been lessons, so I feel like I’ve grown. I’ll come back stronger.
  • While he’s enjoying his time in Houston, guard Fred VanVleet often reflects on his time in Toronto, writes’s Michael Grange. VanVleet spent seven years with the Raptors, helping deliver a title in 2019. However, he knew there was a chance he wouldn’t be a Raptor forever. “I got to closely monitor Kyle [Lowry] go through the change, closely monitor DeMar [DeRozan]. Obviously those are two of my closest friends. Seeing those guys [move on] you say, ‘OK, it’s possible.’ Like, if we can trade DeMar, who the hell am I?” VanVleet said. “If Kyle got to the point where it was time for him to go — he’s the best Raptor of all time — who the hell am I? You have to be realistic with yourself. It always is a dream of a player to kind of stay with one team his whole career. But it’s getting less and less realistic these days.

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.

Grizzlies Trade Adams To Rockets For Oladipo, Second-Round Picks

FEBRUARY 2: The trade is official, according to press releases from both the Rockets and Grizzlies.

The three draft picks sent from Houston to Memphis in the deal are as follows, per Wojnarowski (Twitter link) and The Athletic’s John Hollinger:

  • The Thunder’s 2024 second-round pick.
  • Either the Nets’ 2024 second-round pick (protected 55-58) or the Warriors’ 2024 second-round pick (protected 56-58) (whichever is most favorable).
  • Either the Rockets’ 2025 second-round pick or the Thunder’s 2025 second-round pick (whichever is most favorable).

FEBRUARY 1: The Grizzlies are trading center Steven Adams to the Rockets in exchange for Victor Oladipo and three second-round picks, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Adams is out for the season with a knee injury while Oladipo is also battling a long-term left patellar tendon injury.

According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), the Grizzlies are acquiring two 2024 second-round picks and a 2025 second-round pick in the trade.

The move is a primarily financial one from Memphis’ side, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The Grizzlies were and are facing tough contract decisions with an expensive roster set for 2024/25. Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Marcus Smart are among players set to make $20MM or more next season and, before acquiring Oladipo, their only free-agent-to-be next season was Xavier Tillman. Adams is set to make $12.6MM next season while Oladipo is on an expiring deal.

Not including the cap hold for a likely lottery pick, the Grizzlies had $186MM in salary for next season with the second apron projected for $190MM, according to Marks (Twitter link). Moving Adams creates some breathing room to the club, who may also look to shed additional salary ahead of next week’s deadline.

While Tillman was the Grizzlies’ only projected standard free agent, they also could look to move Luke Kennard, who possesses a $14.7MM team option for next season. While they could simply decline the option, it may make sense to try and extract value for the career 43.7% three-point shooter. Alternatively, they could exercise Kennard’s team option and look to make smaller moves to duck out of tax territory, according to Spotrac’s Keith Smith.

If they don’t flip him in another trade, the Grizzlies could buy out Oladipo in order to create an opening on their 15-man roster. Two-way player GG Jackson is impressing and is only under contract through the season. Memphis could work out a longer-term deal with him and have the 19-year-old forward take Oladipo’s roster spot, if they so choose.

The Rockets are getting a quality big man when healthy who can play alongside or behind rising star Alperen Sengun. Although Adams is out for the rest of the season, he’s the kind of physical big man the team was seeking. A Wednesday report indicated players like Portland’s Robert Williams and Atlanta’s Clint Capela were among the centers on Houston’s radar.

In the end, the Rockets landed on Adams, who should be full recovered for next season, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Houston’s front office believes in the toughness and leadership he can bring to the team. Adams averaged 8.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 0.9 steals across 42 games with the Grizzlies in ’22/23.

Smith observes that while three second-round picks looks steep on paper for the Rockets, none of those picks are projected to be near the top of the second round. While the exact picks are unknown, the Rockets have second-rounders from Brooklyn, Golden State and Oklahoma City in 2024 and their only 2025 second-rounder is from the Thunder. Additionally, the Rockets are still well below the luxury tax for next season and can dip further by moving off of Jock Landale.

Memphis will be taking on Oladipo’s expiring contract using the $12.4MM disabled player exception they were granted as a result of Ja Morant‘s season-ending injury. That will allow the team to create a $12.6MM trade exception (equivalent to Adams’ full outgoing salary). As explained in our glossary, that trade exception would be good to use for one year.

Grizzlies Granted Disabled Player Exception

The Grizzlies have been granted a disabled player exception worth $6.3MM for the season-ending loss of Steven Adams, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania (Twitter link).

Adams is out for the 2023/24 season after undergoing surgery to address his right posterior cruciate ligament after “non-operative rehabilitation” failed to properly fix the issues in his knee.

As explained in our glossary, a disabled player exception allows an over-the-cap team some spending power when it loses a player to an injury deemed likely to sideline him through at least June 15 of that season. The exception is worth either half the injured player’s salary or the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, whichever is lesser. Adams is on track to earn $12.6MM this season, so the exception is worth half that.

The exception can be used to sign a free agent, claim a player off waivers or acquire a player in a trade. It can only be used on one single player and can only be utilized for a one-year deal. Any player being acquired via trade or waiver claim must have just one year remaining on his contract.

It’s important to note that a disabled player exception does not open up a roster spot for the Grizzlies, or any other team who uses one. In order to use the exception, Memphis needs to have an open roster spot. The Grizzlies currently have 15 players on standard contracts, plus Ja Morant on the suspended list, so they’d have to make a cut or trade to use the exception. The Grizzlies face a March 11 deadline to use the DPE for Adams.

Adams, 30, has been with Memphis since the 2021/22 season. In 118 games over the past two seasons, he’s been an integral part of the team’s competitive identity, averaging 7.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.9 blocks per night.

Southwest Notes: Irving, Mavs, Adams, Murphy

Kyrie Irving is known for being mercurial, but he seems pleased with his new role on the Mavericks, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (subscriber link). It’s a small sample size (six games), but Irving has been acting as more of a facilitator and secondary play-maker alongside Luka Doncic, with the 31-year-old averaging a career-high 7.3 assists and 18.2 shots per game, his fewest attempts since 2017/18.

I feel like that’s kind of a cop-out,” Irving said of emphasizing individual statistics. “The focus is really on our team wins, our team camaraderie — and how do I make sure I get the best out of my teammates every single night, despite what I’m doing out there scoring-wise.”

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • The Mavericks are off to a strong start, currently sitting at 6-2. However, one of their weaknesses was exposed in Wednesday’s loss to Toronto with rookie center Dereck Lively sidelined due to an illness, according to Townsend (subscriber-only). Dallas was obliterated down low, outscored by 32 in the paint and outrebounded by 12. “We were soft in the interior, in the paint,” Irving said. “When you have your head coach (Jason Kidd) calling you soft, you’ve got to take that personally and take that as a challenge.” As impressive as Lively has been at times, it’s unreasonable to expect a 19-year-old with limited experience to be the primary anchor of a top-end defense, and the Mavs will need to figure out how to control the paint when he’s unavailable, Townsend writes.
  • Steven Adams underwent successful surgery on Thursday to repair his right posterior ligament and is expected to make a full recovery prior to next season, the Grizzlies announced (via Twitter). The team’s starting center will unfortunately miss the entire 2023/24 season.
  • Will Guillory of The Athletic (Twitter link) provides an injury update on Pelicans wing Trey Murphy, who is recovering from meniscus surgery on his left knee. According to Guillory, Murphy has been running prior to games, playing 1-on-1 against assistant coaches and is making good progress, but he’s still “at least a few weeks away” from returning to action.

Grizzlies Notes: Adams, Frontcourt, Smart, Bane

Sunday’s announcement that Steven Adams will miss the entire 2023/24 season due to right knee surgery feels like a “gut punch” for the Grizzlies, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who writes that the team is facing major frontcourt questions, with backup center Brandon Clarke also expected to miss much of the season while recovering from a torn Achilles.

As Hollinger outlines, the Grizzlies lack size without Adams and Clarke available, and moving reigning Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson from power forward to center isn’t necessarily the obvious solution, since playing the five may exacerbate Jackson’s foul issues — and he’s not a great rebounder. Jackson, who spoke earlier in camp about wanting to improve his rebounding, doubled down on that notion following the news of Adams’ surgery, per Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“I got to (rebound) even more, like way more,” Jackson said. “I got to be way better just in terms of that end of the floor. That’s something he is the best in the world at. I already had to do that better with him on the floor, and I gotta to do it even better with him not on the floor.”

Head coach Taylor Jenkins said on Monday that there’s no replacing Adams, who is one of the NBA’s best rebounders, especially on the offensive end. However, Jenkins is hopeful that the team can look to “collectively” improve its rebounding rather than relying on a specific player to take on that responsibility. Memphis’ fifth-year coach also acknowledged that a roster addition in the frontcourt is a possibility.

“I’m working with (general manager) Zach (Kleiman) on that,” Jenkins said, per Cole. “There is more to come, for sure. We are having great dialogues right now, you know, with the newness of the news over the weekend. We will sit down and process where this team is at and how we can move forward.”

The Grizzlies have a full roster, but will be granted an extra roster spot after the season’s first five games, when Ja Morant can be moved to the suspended list for the remainder of his 25-game ban.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • In a separate story for The Memphis Commercial Appeal, Cole explores the various tools the Grizzlies have at their disposal to address the center spot – including the mid-level exception and a trade exception – and speculates about which players on the free agent and trade markets might be fits in Memphis.
  • Speaking to Jared Weiss of The Athletic, former Celtics guard Marcus Smart said he wasn’t shocked by the trade that sent him to the Grizzlies, but was a bit surprised by when and how it went down. “If I’m being quite frank, I knew I would be traded eventually,” Smart said. “Just figured it would be the next season, just based off my contract and with the new CBA. We already knew that. But it was just the way it happened. I was told everything was good after asking multiple times. Like, ‘I’m hearing (rumors), what’s going on?’ And they’re like, ‘No, you’re good, you’re good, you’re good.’ And then when I do hear about the trade, it’s from Shams (Charania) on Twitter before I hear from the team.”
  • While the Grizzlies intend to share the play-making responsibilities until Morant returns, Desmond Bane looks like the player that will assume the brunt of that role, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, who takes a look at how Bane might respond to becoming more of a primary ball-handler.
  • The pressure is building on the Grizzlies, who are no longer the Western Conference’s young, upstart team and will need to show soon that they’re capable of making an extended postseason run, Cole writes for The Commercial Appeal. While this isn’t necessarily a make-or-break year for team leaders like Kleiman or Jenkins, the sense of urgency in Memphis has increased following last season’s first-round playoff exit, Cole adds.