Taylor Jenkins

And-Ones: Potential Coaching Changes, Wembanyama, France, Draft Odds

Head coaches Taylor Jenkins, Willie Green and Chauncey Billups could all be in danger of losing their jobs next season, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who discussed the topic with league personnel at the draft combine. Hollinger cites a belief that the Grizzlies, Pelicans and Trail Blazers will consider coaching changes if they get off to slow starts.

Jenkins has been mostly successful during his time in Memphis, finishing second in the 2022 Coach of the Year race, but he’s coming off a 27-win season as the Grizzlies were overwhelmed by injuries. Hollinger notes that the organization fired most of his staff prior to the combine, which could be a sign of trouble.

Green posted 49 wins this season, but New Orleans wasn’t competitive while being swept out of the playoffs in the first round by Oklahoma City. There’s been more scrutiny on Green’s offensive philosophies and player usage, especially at center, Hollinger adds.

Billups seems most likely to be replaced as he’s entering the final year of his contract and is reporting to a general manager who didn’t hire him. Portland also made changes involving its assistant coaches, and Hollinger states that Billups seemed to be trying to position himself for the Suns job before they hired Mike Budenholzer. Everyone that Hollinger spoke with expects Billups to be replaced by next offseason.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • In addition to trying to win a gold medal for France, Victor Wembanyama hopes to use the 2024 Olympics as a learning experience, per Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops. “I am here to learn from some of the best players in the history of the national team,” Wembanyama said. “I am not here to explain anything to players with five, six or seven international campaigns under their belts. For sure, I will have responsibilities, but they will be realistic. I will have as many as necessary.”
  • Alexandre Sarr, who hopes to follow Wembanyama as the second French player to be drafted No. 1 overall, is part of a wave of NBA talent from the nation, Hollinger writes in a separate story. Zaccharie Risacher will also get consideration as the top pick, as four players from France may be taken in the first round. Wembanyama and Bilal Coulibaly both went in the lottery last year, and Hollinger notes that Nolan Traore is likely to be selected early in 2025. “I think we got so much talent, it’s exciting,” French native Rudy Gobert said. “You go (back) 20 years ago, we had a few guys like (Tony Parker) and Boris Diaw and (Nicolas) Batum, and now you look and there’s so much talent every year coming in. Credit the French clubs and the French federation for being able to develop some of this talent and allowing them to play to their abilities.”
  • HoopsHype has released its annual draft predictor, charting the most likely players to be selected by each team. The list starts with Sarr, who is considered to have an 87.9% chance to be drafted by Atlanta.

Southwest Notes: Spurs, Grizzlies, Rockets, Doncic

Two days after honoring last year’s No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama with the presentation of his Rookie of the Year award on Friday (Andrew Lopez of ESPN has the details), the Spurs enjoyed a successful draft lottery for a second consecutive spring on Sunday. As Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required) writes, general manager Brian Wright said San Antonio was thrilled to come away from Sunday’s event with the No. 4 and No. 8 picks.

“You are always looking at how you build a team and how do you get enough bites at the apple with whatever mechanism, and two lottery picks gives us a great opportunity to add two young players to our young core or also see what else is out there,” Wright said. “Like we do everything, we will evaluate all options.”

The Spurs’ own pick moved up one spot to No. 4 as a result of the lottery drawing, while the top-six protected pick that the Raptors owed San Antonio fell from No. 6 to No. 8, outside of its protected range. Spurs management may have preferred to acquire that pick in a stronger draft year, but there’s no guarantee it would’ve landed inside the top 10 in any other year.

Whether the Spurs keep or trade their lottery picks, finding players who complement Wembanyama will be a top priority, Wright confirmed.

“You definitely take that into consideration because you want to build a team that is cohesive and can grow together,” the GM said.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • As happy as the Spurs were with Sunday’s lottery results, it’s worth noting that accounting for the cap holds for those two lottery selections at No. 4 and No. 8 will cut into their projected cap space. Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link) now has San Antonio projected for about $19.5MM in room, assuming the team waives Devonte’ Graham and Charles Bassey.
  • The Grizzlies have recently parted ways with several assistant coaches, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, who tweets that head coach Taylor Jenkins is restructuring his staff this spring. Iko didn’t specify exactly which coaches have been let go.
  • Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal considers some of the options the Grizzlies will have with the No. 9 pick in the draft, discussing which prospects could fit the team at that spot and whether it makes sense to trade up, down, or out of the draft.
  • Asked after the Rockets landed the No. 3 pick in the draft lottery what sort of roster needs his team might want to address this offseason, head coach Ime Udoka pointed to shooting, shot creation, and positional versatility as traits Houston will be looking for, according to Iko. “Shooting is always at a premium, so you look at that,” Udoka said. “Versatility across the board with how we defend and want to play. And well-rounded players, we want shot creation as well. Trying to cover all the bases and with that third pick, you can do that with a lot of these players.”
  • While there has been no indication that he won’t play, Mavericks star Luka Doncic is once again listed as questionable for Monday’s Game 4 due to his right knee sprain and left ankle soreness, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required) takes a closer look at the beating that Doncic has taken so far in the playoffs, noting that the MVP finalist told reporters that “everything” was sore after the Mavs’ Game 3 victory.

NBA Fines Grizzlies’ Taylor Jenkins $25K

The NBA has fined Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins $25K for criticizing referees following Memphis’ 127-121 home defeat to the Jazz on Friday, the league has announced (Twitter link).

“One of the most poorly officiated games I’ve ever seen,” Jenkins told reporters after the loss, per The Associated Press. “Record it. I’m fine with it. F—ing atrocious.”

The loss dropped the Grizzlies to an NBA-worst 1-8 record on the year. The club will be without the services of suspended All-Star point guard Ja Morant for the next 16 contests, while two of its best three frontcourt players will remain out much longer.

Starting center Steven Adams has been ruled out for the remainder of the 2023/24 season, after undergoing surgery on his right posterior cruciate ligament. Reserve power forward Brandon Clarke, meanwhile, continues to recover from a torn left Achilles tendon he suffered in March. Another key big man, Xavier Tillman Sr., has already missed time this season with an ongoing knee injury.

Down its starting point guard and its third-string point guard in Derrick Rose, the club currently boasts the No. 29-rated offense in the league.

Southwest Notes: Smart, Jones, Alvarado, Hardy, Green

Marcus Smart will make his preseason Grizzlies debut on Friday, according to Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Smart, acquired from Boston this offseason, will go right into the starting lineup, coach Taylor Jenkins told Cole. Smart has been battling abdominal soreness.

“I’ve been doing this going on 10 years now, so for me, I know what it takes to get myself going and how long it takes,” the Grizzlies veteran guard said. “I’ll be ready.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Tre Jones signed a two-year, $19MM contract this offseason to remain with the Spurs. However, it’s uncertain if he’ll remain a starter. He told Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News he’s fine either way. “No matter if I’m starting or coming off the bench, it will always be the same,” Jones said. “I’ve got to be a leader for us. I’ve got to continue to set my teammates up as many ways as possible, be an extension of coach on the court, be aggressive on the defensive end and try to help us win any way possible.”
  • The Pelicans have played poorly this preseason but they should toughen up when backup point guard Jose Alvarado returns. Alvarado has been sidelined by an ankle sprain but there’s optimism he’ll be back for the regular season opener next week. “He’s a big piece for our team, especially on the defensive side of the basketball,” forward Brandon Ingram told Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “He brings us energy. He’ll be good for our second group, just trying to run our second group.”
  • The Mavericks are dealing with a few minor injuries, Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com tweets. Jaden Hardy is getting treatment on a sprained ankle, while Josh Green suffered a back injury on Monday and sat out Tuesday’s practice.

Grizzlies Notes: Harrison, Aldama, Jackson Jr., Jenkins

The Grizzlies signed guard Shaquille Harrison to a one-year contract and he could be a factor in the early going with Ja Morant serving his suspension, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal notes. Under the terms of the CBA, any player suspended more than six games will be put on the team’s suspended list after five. That will open a roster spot, and that’s where Harrison could add more depth. He can play either guard spot and has plenty of experience after passing through six other NBA organizations.

We have more from the Grizzlies:

  • Santi Aldama had a big game for Spain when his national team was eliminated in the FIBA World Cup by Canada, Cole writes. The big man poured in 20 points, though he only grabbed two rebounds in Canada’s three-point win. Jaren Jackson Jr. was plagued by foul trouble trying to check former Grizzlies teammate and Lithuanian national team center Jonas Valanciunas in Team USA’s six-point loss on Sunday.
  • In a subscriber-only story, Cole opines that coach Taylor Jenkins’ future with the organization hinges on its performance in the postseason. The Grizzlies were bounced in the first round by the Lakers this past season after losing to the Warriors in the conference semifinals the previous year.
  • As we previously noted, the Grizzlies already have a full roster going into training camp. Even if Harrison’s contract isn’t guaranteed, the Grizzlies will have to trim two players with guaranteed deals by opening night.

Grizzlies Notes: Kennard, Bane, Jenkins, Game 5 Win

Luke Kennard‘s health could be a key element in the Grizzlies’ aim to win their series against the Lakers after trailing 3-1. Kennard injured his left shoulder in the second half of Game 5 but he provided an optimistic update after Memphis’ win. Game 6 is scheduled for Friday night, according to Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“I just got a stinger out there,” Kennard said. “Getting it looked at (Thursday), trying to find out a little more, but it’s all good right now.”

With Dillon Brooks struggling with his shot and the Lakers sagging off him, Kennard has proved to be a better offensive option, Joe Vardon of The Athletic notes. He’s shooting 50 percent on 3-pointers and 52 percent overall in this series.

“Luke is one of the best shooters in the league,” Ja Morant said. “Obviously that opens up a lot of space on the floor and we just play off that.”

We have more on the Grizzlies:

  • Desmond Bane racked up 33 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in Game 5 and made a de facto guarantee that the Grizzlies will win Game 6 on the Lakers’ home floor, Tim MacMahon of ESPN relays. “We got to come with the right edge and the right road mentality, but I said it out there and I’ll say it again,” Bane said. “We’re going to be back for a Game 7 in front of the best fans in the NBA.”
  • While there’s no indication he’ll be replaced if the team flops in the first round, coach Taylor Jenkins is under pressure to show he can be successful in the postseason. Cole and Mark Giann0tto of the Commercial Appeal examine that topic.
  • In a subscriber-only story, Chris Herrinigton of the Daily Memphian examines how the Game 5 victory could propel Memphis the rest of the series, including the fact that Morant and Bane are hot offensively at the same time.

And-Ones: Jenkins, Rivers, Perry, Attendance, Incentives, More

Taylor Jenkins of the Grizzlies and Doc Rivers of the Sixers were named the NBA’s March/April Coaches of the Month for the Western Conference and Eastern Conference, respectively, the league announced today (via Twitter).

Jenkins’ 14-8 record in March and April was the West’s second-best mark behind the Lakers (14-6). The Grizzlies’ head coach perhaps earned extra marks for dealing with some Ja Morant-related drama and Brandon Clarke‘s season-ending injury during that time.

Meanwhile, no NBA team won more games in March and April than Rivers’ Sixers, who went 15-7 to lock up the No. 3 seed in the East.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Reggie Perry, a 2020 second-round pick who appeared in 36 games for the Nets, Trail Blazers, and Pacers from 2020-22, has signed with South Korea’s LG Sakers, the team announced on Instagram (hat tip to Sportando). Perry is headed overseas after spending most of the 2022/23 season with the Raptors 905 in the G League.
  • The NBA announced in a press release that the league set a new single-season record for total attendance in 2022/23, establishing new high water marks for both league-wide attendance (22,234,502) and average attendance per game (18,077). Both of those records were previously set in 2017/18.
  • In a pair of tweets, Bobby Marks of ESPN identifies several of the players who earned bonus money by achieving regular season incentives, led by Knicks forward Julius Randle ($2.4MM) and Celtics wing Jaylen Brown ($2.1MM)
  • Is the concept of “voter fatigue” a myth? For the most part, yes, as Howard Beck explains in an interesting piece for GQ Sports.
  • Agent Raymond Brothers – who represents Markelle Fultz, Immanuel Quickley, and Precious Achiuwa, among others – has left Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports and returned to his former agency, IAM Sports, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Brothers said in a statement that he holds Roc Nation in the “highest regard” and wishes them well.

Southwest Notes: Morant, Brooks, Murray, Pelicans, Rockets

Tonight marks the final game of Ja Morant‘s suspension, but coach Taylor Jenkins confirmed that Morant is unlikely to play on Monday when the Grizzlies host the Mavericks, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Monday will be Morant’s first day back at the team facility after being out of action since March 3, and Jenkins said his All-Star guard will need some time to get ready.

“It’s a good chance he’s probably out for the Monday game because it’s going to be his first day back with the team,” Jenkins said. “Our anticipation is he’s at least out Monday, and then we’ll cross the bridge for Wednesday as we get a little bit closer.”

The Grizzlies will host the Rockets on Wednesday and Friday, and although Morant is likely to play in at least one of those games, Cole states that the team hasn’t reached a final decision. He adds that Morant’s minutes will be monitored whenever he returns.

“From a basketball standpoint, we know this guy and how he is wired,” Jenkins said. “I know he’s putting in work, staying ready, and he’s going to be chomping at the bit to get out there with his teammates on Monday and Tuesday, and we’ll see what Wednesday holds.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Grizzlies are talking to league officials about rescinding Dillon Brooks‘ most recent technical foul, his 17th this season, Cole tweets. Jenkins said Brooks was walking away from a confrontation when the technical was assessed. Brooks was already suspended for one game when he reached 16 technicals this season and would face an additional one-game suspension for every two techs he accumulates the rest of the way.
  • Dejounte Murray isn’t sure what kind of reception to expect Sunday in his first game back in San Antonio since the Spurs traded him to the Hawks, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Some fans are upset about statements and social media posts from Murray regarding his time in the city. “At the end of the day, I love this city, I love the San Antonio Spurs organization, the Austin Spurs, I love everything about it,” Murray said Saturday. “However it goes (Sunday) is however it goes. But I am excited to see the people I love and care about.”
  • The Pelicans‘ decision to let Zion Williamson run the offense has resulted in a lot of inefficiency when he’s not available, states Christian Clark of NOLA. New Orleans has the fourth-worst record in the league since Williamson was lost with a hamstring injury in early January and is 26th in points per 100 possessions over that span.
  • The Rockets will likely be aggressive in trying to trade down in the draft if their first-round pick doesn’t land in the top three in the lottery, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Grizzlies Coach Says There’s No Timetable For Ja Morant To Return

The Grizzlies announced Saturday that Ja Morant will be away from the team for at least two games, but his absence could last much longer than that, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Speaking to reporters before Sunday night’s contest in Los Angeles, coach Taylor Jenkins said there’s no set length for how long the embattled point guard will be out of action.

“We have said that it’s going to be at least these two games,” Jenkins said. “I mean, this is going be an ongoing healing process. … It’s really not a timetable situation.”

Morant’s latest controversy began with an Instagram Live video that appears to show him waiving a gun around while shirtless at a strip club at 5:19 am Saturday. It’s the latest in a string of incidents that have caused many to question Morant’s off-the-court behavior.

Morant issued an apology for the video Saturday afternoon while announcing that he was going to “take some time away to get help.” He also deactivated his Instagram and Twitter accounts, which he had been using frequently to promote his business interests and interact with fans.

“We’re taking this very seriously,” Jenkins said. “There’s a supportive element for someone that’s got to get better and needs some help. But then there’s also accountability to the team that we’ve got to stand for.

“Obviously nationwide, leaguewide, there’s been a lot of attention on gun violence, and so for us, that’s the stance that we’ve taken about how we can support Ja throughout this growth opportunity. It’s a learning opportunity, and hopefully we can be better from it.”

On Sunday, the Grizzlies played their first game since Morant stepped away, squandering a big fourth quarter lead in a loss to the Clippers. Afterward, players expressed support for their teammate, per Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“We’re wrapping our arms around him and showing him our love,” said Desmond Bane, who scored 30 points Sunday and took over more ball-handling responsibilities with Morant not in the lineup. “Whenever he is ready to come back, we’ll welcome him with open arms.”

Jenkins is also counting on Jaren Jackson Jr. to help make up for Morant’s lost production, Cole adds. The All-Star big man took 18 shots Sunday and finished with 24 points.

“I’m happy for whatever he decides to do,” Jackson said. “I trust his judgment. He’s doing what’s best for him. He’s going to come back and take over the league again.”

Southwest Notes: Brunson, Gelfand, Clarke, Johnson

The Knicks are under investigation by the league regarding potential tampering during their pursuit of free agent Jalen Brunson, but that probe wasn’t instigated by Brunson’s old team. According to Marc Stein’s sources, the Mavericks did not file an official complaint against the Knicks, as he reports in his latest Substack post. The Knicks made a series of salary-dumping moves prior to free agency, then snagged Brunson away from Dallas with a four-year, $104MM contract.

We have more Southwest Division news:

  • In the same Substack article, Stein indicates that the Pelicans are making a hard push to hire Pistons analytics expert Sammy Gelfand. Gelfand and Pelicans coach Willie Green previously worked together with the Warriors.
  • Brandon Clarke would be a logical choice to replace Jaren Jackson Jr. in the Grizzlies‘ lineup until Jackson is ready to return from foot surgery. However, that would create other issues, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal notes. Clarke didn’t play much with center Steven Adams last season due to the fact that both operate out of the paint. Coach Taylor Jenkins also liked having Clarke on the second unit due to his scoring ability.
  • Keldon Johnson won’t rest on his laurels after signing a four-year, $80MM extension. The Spurs forward told Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News that he held a little celebration with family and friends, then went back to work. “I was in the gym the next day,” he said. Johnson wants to live up to the contract. “It’s always been full-time basketball,” Johnson said. “I knew as long as I put in the time and the effort, the extension would come. … I’m in some of the best shape of my life, the strongest I have been in my life.”