Vince Williams

Morant Showing Good Progress From Shoulder Surgery

Ja Morant appears to be ahead of schedule in his recovery from shoulder surgery, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports.

According to Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins, Morant and several other players who suffered significant injuries are making good progress. Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., Ziaire Williams, Vince Williams and Marcus Smart were among the other Grizzlies players who missed chunks of time due to injury this season.

“Everything is going well,” Jenkins said on Tuesday. “Ja is the only one when June rolls around, he’s going to be pretty close to full go on the court. Everything that everyone was dealing with towards the end of the season is in a good place right now.”

Morant’s season was essentially a washout. He missed the first 25 games of the season due to an NBA suspension, then averaged 25.1 points, 8.1 assists and 5.6 rebounds in nine games after the suspension, including a game-winning shot against New Orleans on Dec. 19 in his return to action.

Morant was then diagnosed with a labral tear in his right shoulder after a training session. At the time of his January surgery, the recovery process was outlined as a six-month process.

Grizzlies head of basketball operations Zach Kleiman said in April that there wasn’t a timeline on Morant’s full availability, but that he was “expected to be fully cleared for basketball activities maybe halfway through the offseason.”

Morant will be entering the second year of his five-year, max contract.

Grizzlies Notes: Morant, Rose, Draft Pick, Kennard, More

Although the Grizzlies dealt with a ton of injuries this season, particularly down the stretch, there aren’t many long-term concerns among that group of injured players, according to head of basketball operations Zach Kleiman, who told reporters today that Ja Morant (right shoulder surgery) is the only one expected to have more than a month of recovery time, per Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“I would say he is expected to be fully cleared for basketball activities maybe halfway through the offseason,” Kleiman said of Morant, who is expected to be in Memphis rehabbing for most of the summer. “… He’s been very diligent with his work. He’s been around the team pouring into that everyday.”

Another Grizzlies point guard who missed much of the 2023/24 season for health reasons, Derrick Rose said on Monday that he has no plans to retire and expects to be back in Memphis next season, according to Cole. Rose is under contract for a guaranteed salary worth approximately $3.4MM.

“Yes, I’m coming back,” Rose said. “I talked to Zach, I talked to coach (Taylor Jenkins). … This summer, it’s all about attacking my rehabs, my workouts and continuing to be disciplined.”

The Grizzlies signed Rose and traded for Marcus Smart last summer, envisioning the veteran guards serving as mentors and veteran leaders for Morant during and following his 25-game suspension. However, Rose appeared in just 24 games, Smart played in 20, and Morant suited up for only nine.

Here’s more out of Memphis:

  • While the Grizzlies used Jaren Jackson Jr. at the five frequently this season and will likely continue to do so, Kleiman wasn’t coy about the fact that Memphis intends to add at least one center to its roster this offseason, according to Cole. “I envision we’ll add at least one big,” he said. “Whether that’s a starting big or a rotation big, I think we have some work to do on the roster there. … We’re not trying to hide the ball on that.” The Grizzlies traded away centers Steven Adams and Xavier Tillman at February’s deadline.
  • Memphis projects to have a top-10 pick in this year’s draft, but hasn’t decided yet whether it will keep or trade that first-rounder, Cole writes. “I think we’re going to be open-minded on what we can do with that pick,” Kleiman said. Obviously, no decisions will be made until sometime after May’s lottery, since the team’s plans for a No. 1 or No. 8 overall pick could look very different.
  • Kleiman was noncommittal on the Grizzlies’ plans for Luke Kennard, whose contract includes a 2024/25 team option worth about $14.8MM. “Luke is someone we continue to feel strongly about,” Kleiman said. “Someone who is important for this team and this NBA. We have decisions that we have to make on him coming up.”
  • As Cole relays, Kleiman lauded second-year shooting guard Vince Williams for what he provided the Grizzlies this season and said Williams will be an important part of the club’s plans going forward: “He is someone that we have confidence in to play a significant role. He can play different kinds of roles, but it will be significant next season.”

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.

Southwest Notes: Green, Rockets, Mavs, Kidd, Clarke, V. Williams

Jalen Green‘s in-season turnaround in Houston has been remarkable, according to Mark Deeks of HoopsHype. As Deeks writes, after looking like a potential trade candidate at last month’s deadline, the Rockets guard is now making a legitimate case for a maximum-salary rookie scale extension this offseason.

Green led the Rockets to their 10th straight victory on Wednesday in Oklahoma City, putting up an eye-popping line of 37 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. Houston is now one game back of Golden State for the No. 10 spot in the West and Green is confident the club will finish in the top 10.

“We’re going to get a play-in game,” Green said after Wednesday’s win, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “We’re going to keep going.”

Whether or not the Rockets pass the Warriors – or another Western Conference team – in the standings before the end of the regular season, head coach Ime Udoka is pleased that his young squad is getting the opportunity to play meaningful games this late in the year after winning no more than 22 games in each of the previous three seasons.

“I think it’s invaluable for our young guys to go through this,” Udoka said. “And obviously making the playoffs or play-in will be another step, but just going through what they are now and coming on the other side of .500 is huge for them.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Although many of Green’s best performances – and the Rockets‘ recent winning streak – have come since Alperen Sengun went down with ankle and knee injuries, Udoka expressed confidence that the two rising stars will be able to excel alongside one another when both are healthy. “I think that they can complement each other very well,” Udoka said during an appearance on The Matt Thomas Show (Twitter audio link).
  • Within a detailed story exploring the Western Conference playoff race, Sam Amick of The Athletic outlines how the Mavericks‘ play on defense has keyed the team’s recent hot streak, which includes nine wins in 10 games. Amick also cites sources who say that head coach Jason Kidd hopes to sign a contract extension with the franchise this offseason. Kidd is under contract for one more season beyond this one, notes Amick.
  • After a long recovery from an Achilles injury, Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke made his season debut on Wednesday vs. the Lakers. Clarke was effective in his return, with a +15 mark in 21 minutes of action in a 12-point loss. The team intends to take a cautious approach to his playing time in the season’s final weeks, according to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “We’re definitely going to be smart with his minutes after the long layoff,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said. “We’ll take it week by week. It’s not going to be a game by game thing.”
  • While Clarke is back in action, the Grizzlies still have no recovery timeline for injured shooting guard Vince Williams, who has been out since March 8 due to left patellar tendonitis, tweets Cole.

Southwest Notes: Jackson, Williams, Jones, Brooks, Sochan

The Grizzlies upset the Bucks on Thursday, with young forwards GG Jackson and Vince Williams playing big parts in the victory. Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes that breakout years from Jackson and Williams are silver linings in an injury-riddled season from Memphis.

Jackson scored a career high-tying 27 points in the win over Milwaukee.

I try to be as coachable as possible,” Jackson said. “My high school coach called me a sponge back in the day. Not back in the day, it was like two years ago. I try to pick up on things as fast as I can, but not too fast to make sure I get every little detail.

Meanwhile, Williams finished that game with 18 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Both players look like they’ll fit perfectly on a fully healthy version of the Grizzlies. Williams gives Memphis another capable perimeter defender while Jackson’s ability to bring instant offense to the bench will be valuable.

Jackson in particular drew praise from Milwaukee’s stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard after the game, according to The Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Jonah Dylan. “I thought he had a great game,” Lillard said. “He came out, he was letting it fly, no hesitation.

Antetokounmpo said he liked Jackson “a lot.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans wing Herbert Jones is shining from beyond the arc in his third season in the league,’s Christian Clark observes. Jones is shooting a career-high 40.7% from deep and is connecting on 52.6% of his threes since the New Year. “Herb has been shooting the ball well lately,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “He is getting more and more confident in his shot.
  • Rockets wing Dillon Brooks‘ worst shooting season came last year with the Grizzlies, but he’s experiencing his best efficiency ever in his first year with Houston, Jonathan Feigen of Houston Chronicle writes. Overall, he’s taking smarter shots and helping Houston get into an offensive flow. “In general this year, I think he’s done a good job of really expanding his game and not getting pigeonholed into (the) defensive side only,” Rockets coach Ime Udoka said. “… It’s a lot to play both sides of the ball, not just be a scorer or a defensive guy only. I think he welcomes that role this year. It was good carryover from the Canadian national team and the things he did with them.
  • Jeremy Sochan has had somewhat of a roller-coaster season with the Spurs this year. Sochan took over point guard duties to begin the season, an experiment that was taxing on him and wasn’t producing San Antonio’s best offensive product, according to Tom Orsborn of San Antonio Express-News. However, Sochan seemed to have no regrets about going through with the position change, even if temporarily, and expressed the need for outsiders to have patience while this core grows together. “I always had the mentality that the only way is up,” Sochan said. “Everything I do is for a reason, to learn and grow. So, yeah, I feel good. It’s just growing and learning even more. The sky is the limit.

And-Ones: MVP Race, 2024 Draft, Korkmaz, Okafor, More

With Joel Embiid no longer eligible for this season’s MVP award due to the number of games he has missed, the race appears wide open, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, who conducted another version of his straw poll ahead of the All-Star break.

The 100 media members polled over the weekend by MacMahon selected Nuggets center Nikola Jokic as the current MVP favorite, with Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as the runner-up. Jokic earned 69 first-place votes and was the only player selected by all 100 voters on their five-player ballots, while Gilgeous-Alexander was listed on 99 ballots and was the top choice on 24 of them.

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, and Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard rounded out the top five in Bontemps’ latest poll, with Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, and Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell also appearing on double-digit ballots. Notably, while just four of 100 media members had Anthony Edwards in their top five, one made the Timberwolves guard their MVP choice.

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

  • Although Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo of ESPN (Insider link) still feel as if the 2024 draft class is short on high-end talent, they believe it could end up being a relatively deep draft. Givony and Woo suggest that some teams will be able to find rotation players later in the first round or in the second round, even if there are no sure-fire stars at the top of the class.
  • After being traded from Philadelphia to Indiana and then waived by the Pacers, veteran swingman Furkan Korkmaz has turned down interest from Turkish club Besiktas for now and is hoping to remain in the NBA, according to a report from Eurohoops. Korkmaz didn’t play much for the Sixers the past two seasons, but is still just 26 years old and is a 36.1% three-point shooter over the past five years.
  • Former lottery pick Jahlil Okafor is on the move again, having recently signed with Puerto Rican team Capitanes de Arecibo, as Dario Skerletic of Sportando relays. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 draft, Okafor played in Spain and China earlier this season. He last played in the NBA with Detroit in 2020/21.
  • Grizzlies guard Vince Williams has been chosen to replace injured Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels in this Friday’s Rising Stars game at All-Star weekend, while Indiana Mad Ants guard Kyle Mangas will replace Sixers two-way player Kenneth Lofton Jr. in the G League Next Up game, according to a pair of announcements from the NBA and NBAGL.

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.

Southwest Notes: Whitmore, Sengun, Jackson, Grizzlies, Kleber

Rockets rookie Cam Whitmore took a patient approach to entering Houston’s rotation but was eager to be on the court and show what he could do, writes The Athletic’s Kelly Iko. The 20th overall pick in the 2023 draft said it was a challenge to bounce between the Rockets and their G League affiliate.

It’s a struggle because I love the game of basketball and I want to play basketball,” Whitmore added. “At the end of the day, just be patient. That’s really it.

Whitmore’s patience paid off in an eight-game stretch from Jan. 3-15 in which he played 20.1 minutes a night and averaged 12.5 points while shooting 38.2% from deep. Whitmore credited the G League with helping him get up to speed on the offensive side of the ball, writes Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen.

At 6’7″ and 235 pounds, Whitmore has the tools to be an effective defensive player, Feigen writes, but he knows that’s an area of the game he has to work on.

My awareness on defense,” Whitmore said when asked what he needs to improve. “That’s really it. Being locked in on the defensive side of the ball. Once I get that down pat, everything else will fall into place. That’s the main thing; awareness on the defensive end off ball.

After playing in 23 minutes and scoring 14 points on Jan. 15 against the Sixers, Whitmore played just under nine minutes in the following game against the Knicks.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets head coach Ime Udoka was an assistant coach on the Sixers from 2019-20, working closely with superstar Joel Embiid, writes Feigen. Udoka sees some similarities between Embiid and Houston center Alperen Sengun. “It’s rare in this day and age with actual low-post scorers. These are two of the best in the game right now,” Udoka said. “With Alperen, I’m imparting some of the same wisdom, things I talked to Joel about, which is professionalism, the approach. When you’ve had that losing early on, breaking those bad habits is something I’m constantly on him about. Skill level and talent, he wants to be coached hard and wants to be held accountable.
  • The Grizzlies — marred with injuries to stars and starters — defeated the Warriors in Draymond Green‘s return on Monday behind contributions from several young players. Vince Williams Jr., who was recently converted to a standard contract, led the team in scoring with 24 points. Two-way player GG Jackson scored a career-high 23 points, his second straight game with 20 or more points. At 19 years old, he became the second youngest player in NBA history to record 20+ points in back-to-back games (Twitter link via NBA). “Big win for the Grizzlies, and definitely got to shout out big win for the [Memphis] Hustle as well,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said via AP’s Clay Bailey. “This is a product of full-on development.
  • The Mavericks got Maxi Kleber back from a toe injury on Saturday, his first game action since Dec. 8. His workload has increased in each game since his return. Kleber spoke more about the injury with’s Eddie Sefko. “It felt good. I just got to get used to it, get my rhythm back, get my wind back,” Kleber said after Dallas’ Saturday game against the Pelicans. “But overall I’m just happy. It held together in limited minutes. The second half was a little rougher just because it was sore from the first half. But overall, a good day.

Southwest Notes: Brooks, Udoka, Wembanyama, Grizzlies, Williams

Dillon Brooks will be back in the Rockets‘ lineup for tonight’s game at Boston, tweets Kelly Iko of The Athletic. The defensive specialist has been out of action since December 26 due to a right abdominal oblique injury. He won’t be on a minutes restriction, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

Brooks, who took part in his team’s pre-game shootaround on Friday night for the first time since the injury, talked to Danielle Lerner of The Houston Chronicle about his recovery process.

“It’s been a struggle,” he said. “I want to be out there so bad. Talking about switching, being disciplined on switching, and any time they have an opening to attack the offensive end or whatever, trying to accomplish that.”  

Brooks has helped to transform the Rockets’ defense after signing as a free agent last summer, bringing a strong presence to a team that finished near the bottom of the league in nearly every significant defensive category during its three years of rebuilding. Lerner points out that the version of Houston’s starting lineup that includes Brooks is among the NBA’s best five-man units in terms of net rating and defensive rating.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets coach Ime Udoka returns to the TD Garden tonight for the first time since leading the Celtics to the 2022 NBA Finals, notes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Udoka has maintained close ties with his former players, but this marks their first on-court meeting since he was suspended and ultimately replaced by Joe Mazzulla. “I saw Ime a couple of times this summer. That’s somebody I got a really, really good relationship with. Talk to him all the time,” Jayson Tatum said. “I’m happy for him that he’s gotten this new opportunity. I think they’re going to see a lot of improvement with that team, right? They got some new talent, some new guys, so that helps. Playing against him is going to be a little weird. It’s going to be the first head coach that I’ve had to play against that I had. So it’s going to be different.”
  • Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama responded Friday to rumors that some teammates are reluctant to share the ball with him, tweets Josh Paredes of FanSided. “Of course, I’ve heard it, but it’s never been even close to reality,” Wembanyama said. “There’s nobody on this team that doesn’t want to pass me the ball and there’s nobody I don’t want to pass the ball to.”
  • Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. are the latest additions to the Grizzlies‘ long injury list. Bane, who has a sprained left ankle, is one of seven players who have been declared out for tonight’s game against New York, while Jackson is listed as doubtful with a right knee contusion.
  • Vince Williamsnew contract with the Grizzlies is valued at $9.1MM over four years, according to Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link), with the first three seasons guaranteed at $6.6MM. The fourth year is a team option.

Grizzlies Give Vince Williams Standard Contract, Waive Bismack Biyombo

5:54pm: The moves involving Williams and Biyombo are now official, the Grizzlies announced (via Twitter).

5:18pm: The Grizzlies will convert Vince Williams‘ two-way contract to a standard deal, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The new contract will be fully guaranteed at $7.9MM over three years and carries a team option for a fourth season, adds Wojnarowski, who states that it’s believed to be the richest ever for a player coming off a two-way deal.

To open a spot for Williams on the 15-man roster, Memphis will waive veteran center Bismack Biyombo, according to Woj, who notes that Biyombo has been impressive in his time with the Grizzlies and could return to the team later in the season if he clears waivers. Wojnarowski hears that Memphis will look for another big man to fill its open two-way slot.

Williams has emerged as an outstanding perimeter defender in his second year with Memphis after being taken with the 47th pick in the 2022 draft. The 23-year-old swingman has appeared in 27 games this season, making eight starts, and is averaging 5.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 21.9 minutes per night.

Memphis will use part of the $7.4MM remaining on its non-taxpayer mid-level exception to cover Williams’ salary for the rest of the season, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). The team already spent $5MM of its MLE to sign Biyombo in November.

Biyombo’s contract was only partially guaranteed and the Grizzlies could have saved money by waiving him before Sunday’s deadline, but Marks notes that they’re far enough below the luxury tax that it won’t affect their financial flexibility this season.

Memphis added the 31-year-old Biyombo after losing Steven Adams with a season-ending knee injury. Biyombo quickly took over as the starting center and averaged 5.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 30 games. The Grizzlies will be responsible for the rest of his contract unless another team claims him on waivers.