Ziaire Williams

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.

Western Rumors: Suns, Rockets, O’Neale, Tate, Jazz, Grizzlies

The Suns continue to keep an eye on Nets forward Royce O’Neale and Rockets wing Jae’Sean Tate, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who hears from league sources that Phoenix has discussed a package of Nassir Little and second-round picks for one of those two players.

As Scotto details, the Suns are hoping to find a wing and/or a frontcourt piece on the trade market and will likely be aggressive on the buyout market looking for that sort of player if they’re unable to make a deal. Phoenix will be prohibited from signing a player whose pre-waiver salary exceeds $12.4MM, but not every player on the buyout market will fit that bill.

The Rockets, who are among the other teams with interest in O’Neale, have sought either a late first-round pick or multiple second-rounders to part with Tate, league sources tell Scotto. Aaron Holiday is another Houston player who has generated trade interest.

If the Rockets were to acquire draft assets for a player like Tate or Holiday, they could ultimately flip those picks for another rotation player, Scotto writes.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference in advance of today’s trade deadline:

  • Scotto hears from multiple executives who have explored trading for Kelly Olynyk that the Jazz are seeking draft compensation — ideally a first-round pick. Another potential Utah trade candidate, Kris Dunn, appears likely to stick with the team through the deadline unless the team gets an “unexpected” offer it can’t refuse, a league source tells HoopsHype.
  • The Jazz have had some talks with the Hornets about forward P.J. Washington, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, who says John Collins came up in those discussions.
  • Rival executives believe that some of the Grizzlies‘ recent first-round picks – Ziaire Williams, David Roddy, and Jake LaRavia – could be trade candidates, given the emergence of cheaper youngsters like Vince Williams and GG Jackson, says Scotto. Memphis is facing a bit of a roster and cap crunch for 2024/25, so creating a bit more flexibility in both areas would help.
  • Suns head coach Frank Vogel said on Wednesday won’t mind if his front office decides to stand pat at the deadline, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I’m very in the loop with all of those conversations, but as I said (Tuesday), we love where we’re at as a team,” Vogel said. “If we don’t do anything, I’ll be really happy with the group we have, but obviously, you always look at ways to improve your team.”

Scotto’s Latest: Jones, Wright, Hayes, Grizzlies, Okoro, More

He may not be a splashy name, but veteran point guard Tyus Jones is drawing interest from a variety of teams on the trade market, reports Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

The Lakers and Timberwolves have previously been linked to Jones, which Scotto confirms. However, he also adds three new possible suitors to the list: the Magic, Spurs and Nets.

As Scotto previously reported, the Wizards want a first-round pick back for Jones, preferably one beyond the 2024 draft, with a chance at being a top-20 selection. However, rival executives are reportedly confident that Washington will ultimately accept multiple second-rounders for the 27-year-old, who likely wouldn’t be a starter in certain situations and is on an expiring $14MM contract.

Jones has been the NBA’s assist-to-turnover leader for several years running and is posting career highs in several categories as a full-time starter for the first time in his NBA career, averaging 12.2 PPG, 6.3 APG (against 0.9 TOV), 2.8 RPG and 1.2 SPG on .491/.392/.758 shooting in 49 games (28.5 MPG). He has limitations too of course, namely size (he’s listed at 6’1″, 196 lbs.), which limits his defensive versatility.

It’s worth noting that San Antonio currently deploys Jones’ younger brother, Tre Jones, as its starting point guard, though the Spurs are reportedly on the lookout for a long-term fixture at the position, viewing Tre as more of a strong backup.

The Magic seem like an odd fit for Jones, since they have Markelle Fultz (another impending free agent), Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs and Anthony Black as backcourt players who can initiate offense, though those duties are frequently handled by Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. Jones would obviously help on the turnovers front, but he’s small as opposed to rangy and athletic, which is the mold of the rest of Orlando’s roster, and he isn’t a high-volume long-range shooter (3.7 three-point attempts per game), which is a team weakness.

Here’s more from Scotto’s latest rumor round-up:

  • The Celtics, Kings and Timberwolves are among the teams with interest in Wizards guard Delon Wright, sources tell Scotto. Washington is looking for second-round picks for the veteran guard, who had a previous stint with Sacramento back in 2020/21. Known for his excellent defense, Wright is on an expiring $8.2MM contract.
  • Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (subscription required) reported on Sunday that Killian Hayes‘ camp preferred a change of scenery, and sources tell Scotto the Grizzlies are among the teams to show interest in the fourth-year Pistons guard. Hayes has fallen out of Detroit’s rotation of late and could be a restricted free agent if given a qualifying offer this summer. As for players rivals teams are monitoring from Memphis’ side, Scotto hears Xavier Tillman, Ziaire Williams and Jake LaRavia are all considered potential trade candidates. Tillman will be an unrestricted free agent, while former first-rounders Williams (third year) and LaRavia (second) are still on rookie scale deals.
  • Forward Danilo Gallinari is another Pistons trade candidate, Scotto adds, with the Lakers checking in on the asking price for the Italian veteran.
  • Cavaliers wing Isaac Okoro is considered a trade candidate by rival teams, Scotto writes. One GM who spoke to HoopsHype speculated that Okoro could get $14MM annually in free agency this summer — right around the projected mid-level exception for 2024/25. As with Hayes, Okoro will be a restricted free agent if he’s tendered a qualifying offer, otherwise he’d be unrestricted and free to sign with any team. According to Scotto, the Knicks, Hawks, Pacers, Suns and Bucks are all worth watching, as they all have an interest in two-way wings.
  • In addition to Tyus Jones, Monte Morris, Bones Hyland and Wright, the Timberwolves also have interest in Pistons guard Alec Burks, Scotto reports. As Sankofa reported, the Pistons value Burks and “aren’t eager” to part with him. Sankofa suggested it would take a “strong offer” for Detroit to trade the 32-year-old, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. As for players Minnesota might move, rival executives are eyeing Wendell Moore, Shake Milton and Troy Brown, according to Scotto.
  • The Timberwolves are “hopeful” about their chances of re-signing veteran point guard Mike Conley this summer, Scotto adds. Conley, 36, has started all 45 of his games this year for Minnesota, averaging 10.6 PPG, 6.4 APG, 2.8 RPG and 1.0 SPG while shooting 43.6% from long distance. He’s making $24.4MM in the final year of his deal.
  • The Celtics continue to look for bench upgrades, with minimum-salary players and draft picks the likely outgoing pieces in a deal, according to Scotto.

Grizzlies Exercise 2024/25 Team Options On Four Players

The Grizzlies have exercised their 2024/25 rookie scale team options on Ziaire Williams, Santi Aldama, Jake LaRavia and David Roddy, the team announced on Monday (via Twitter).

After having their fourth-year options picked up, Williams (10th overall pick in 2021) and Aldama (30th in ’21) will now be eligible for rookie scale extensions in 2024. Williams will earn $6,133,005 next season, while Aldama will make $3,960,531.

LaRavia (19th pick in ’22) and Roddy (23rd pick in ’22), on the other hand, had their third-year options exercised. They’ll make $3,352,680 and $2,847,240 in ’24/25, respectively.

After a solid rookie campaign in 2021/22, Williams struggled with injuries and inconsistency last season. However, he started at small forward in a couple of preseason games, including the team’s finale on Friday (Twitter link via Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal), and is looking to bounce back with a strong season in ’23/24.

A 6’10” big man with a versatile skill set, Aldama didn’t play much as a rookie but had a productive sophomore campaign in ’22/23, averaging 9.0 PPG and 4.8 RPG on .470/.353/.750 shooting in 77 games (21.8 MPG). He should be in line for a larger role in year three with Brandon Clarke and Steven Adams unfortunately sidelined with major injuries.

Roddy was selected a few picks after LaRavia, but he saw the court much more frequently as a rookie last season for the Grizzlies, appearing in 70 games for an average of 18.0 MPG). LaRavia appeared in 35 games while averaging 11.8 MPG in ’22/23.

The full list of ’24/25 rookie scale team option decisions can be found right here.

Western Notes: Jazz, Holiday, Morant, Vezenkov, Strawther

The Jazz were involved in the Jrue Holiday sweepstakes before the All-Defensive guard was traded from Portland to Boston, according to Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Larsen hears that Utah considered an offer that included multiple first-round picks for the standout guard. However, he notes that ESPN’s Bobby Marks said during a radio appearance that the Jazz were wary of pursuing Holiday too aggressively without any assurances that he’d commit to the team long-term. The 33-year-old holds a player option for the 2024/25 season, so he could have been just a one-year rental.

Having missed out on Holiday, the Jazz don’t have a clear-cut option to start at point guard and it’s clear that head coach Will Hardy is “struggling with this decision,” Larsen writes. As Tony Jones of The Athletic notes, each of the candidates for the role has exhibited his flaws as well as his strengths so far during camp and the preseason.

Collin Sexton isn’t a natural point guard and Talen Horton-Tucker and Keyonte George are still relatively raw as point guards, according to Jones, who adds that starting Kris Dunn would make it tricky for the team to find minutes off the bench for Sexton. Jordan Clarkson was also considered a candidate for the point guard job, but the Jazz appear more comfortable having him in a sixth-man role, so the competition could be down to four players.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • When Ja Morant‘s 25-game suspension was announced in June, the NBA indicated that the Grizzlies guard would have to meet certain conditions to be reinstated. The league provided an update this week, indicating that Morant’s suspension won’t be shortened but also isn’t expected to extend beyond 25 games, report Sam Amick and Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
  • Ziaire Williams played well as the Grizzlies‘ fifth starter in Tuesday’s preseason win over Milwaukee, but head coach Taylor Jenkins isn’t ready to commit to that spot for the regular season, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Luke Kennard appears to be Williams’ top competition for that starting spot, with Jake LaRavia, David Roddy, and John Konchar looming as wild card, per Cole.
  • Kings head coach Mike Brown is unsure whether NBA newcomer Sasha Vezenkov will be part of the team’s rotation when the regular season begins, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. In a separate story, Anderson points out that Vezenkov started in place of injured forward Keegan Murray (thumb) on Wednesday, but Chris Duarte took Vezenkov’s spot in the lineup to open the third quarter. According to Brown, Vezenkov’s ability to hold his own on defense will be a significant factor in determining his role.
  • Nuggets rookie Julian Strawther, vying for a rotation spot, had an impressive preseason debut on Tuesday vs. Phoenix, piling up 20 points, five rebounds, and three assists with no turnovers in 21 minutes off the bench. Bennett Durando of The Denver Post has the details, observing that Strawther’s ability to space the floor may help earn him a regular role.

Southwest Notes: Z. Williams, Adams, Mavs, Vassell

Following a promising rookie season in 2021/22, Ziaire Williams battled injuries and was limited to just 37 games in ’22/23 — and he was inconsistent when he did play, with his shooting percentages dropping across the board. That down year would seemingly make him a long shot to crack the Grizzlies‘ starting five this fall, but he’s making a case for that open lineup spot with his defensive play in training camp, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“I talked to him after practice about how he’s doing a great job in situations using his length, using his mobility,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said earlier this week. “His attention to detail has been spot-on right now defensively.”

According to Cole, making an All-Defensive team and being named Most Improved Player are among Williams’ lofty goals for the season. While those accolades may ultimately prove out of reach, he’s determined to avoid a repeat of last season, telling reporters that he worked hard this summer and is now stronger and weighs more than at any other time in his playing career.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Coming off a right knee injury, Grizzlies center Steven Adams was a full participant in scrimmages on Thursday and showed no ill effects of his long recovery process, per Cole of The Commercial Appeal. “He’s looked great,” teammate Luke Kennard said. “He’s done everything. Every drill, all the scrimmages and he’s been dominant down low. He looks good to me.”
  • Although Jason Kidd has trended to trust veterans over young players in the past, Tim Cato of The Athletic believes the Mavericks‘ head coach may have a longer leash with Dereck Lively II and Olivier-Maxence Prosper, two defensive-minded rookies who will know not to try to do too much on offense.
  • Devin Vassell isn’t a perfect player, but based on the improvements he has made since entering the league and the rising NBA salary cap, he’s worth the five-year, $135MM+ contract extension the Spurs signed him to this week, says Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. As Vecenie points out, by the end of the deal, Vecenie should be earning approximately 15% of the cap, which is about what players like Myles Turner, Bruce Brown, and Mikal Bridges are currently making.

Southwest Notes: Hield, Thompson, Mamukelashvili, Marjanovic

With Buddy Hield reportedly on his way out of Indiana, he could be the outside shooter that the Grizzlies need, Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes in a mailbag column. Shams Charania broke the news Wednesday night that the Pacers have agreed to work with Hield’s representatives to find a trade after the two sides were unable to come to an agreement on an extension.

While there should be plenty of interest around the league in Hield, Iko sees him as a great fit in Memphis, considering the need for another wing player and someone outside of Desmond Bane and Ja Morant who can consistently score. Hield also contributes on defense, as Iko notes that Indiana was a plus-2.6 in that category with him on the court last season.

The Grizzlies lost Dillon Brooks to free agency this summer, and there’s not an obvious replacement currently on the roster. Iko adds that Ziaire Williams could have been in line for that role, but he was a huge disappointment in his second NBA season, shooting just 25.8% from three-point range and posting a 15% turnover rate.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Amen Thompson suffered an ankle injury in his first Summer League game, but he’s fully recovered and will be ready when the Rockets open training camp, Iko states in the same piece. The No. 4 overall pick is working with lead assistant Ben Sullivan to improve his jump shot and will focus in camp on how to break down NBA defenses. Thompson was at full speed during a recent scrimmage at the team facility, according to Iko.
  • Sandro Mamukelashvili is looking forward to his first full season with the Spurs after seeing limited playing time with the Bucks to start his NBA career, per Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. San Antonio claimed Mamukelashvili off waivers in early March and he averaged 23.3 minutes per night in 19 games. “It was hard with Milwaukee to find my spot and to gel,” Mamukelashvili said. “We had a lot of older guys who took me under their wing like a little brother, but here (in San Antonio) everything is more my age. We’re all in the same situation.”
  • Boban Marjanovic‘s new $2.89MM (minimum-salary) contract with the Rockets includes a $1.3MM guarantee, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Marjanovic also waived his right to veto a trade this season, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Southwest Notes: Capela, Mavericks, Cissoko, Grizzlies

The Mavericks are still in the market for a veteran center and would like to acquire Clint Capela from the Hawks as the third team in a potential Pascal Siakam deal, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column.

Atlanta has been pursuing the Toronto forward in trade talks, but an offer centered around De’Andre Hunter may not be enough. The Hawks could be willing to include Capela, who has two years left on his contract at a total of about $43MM, but the Raptors don’t need another high-priced center after re-signing Jakob Poeltl. Stein suggests that Dallas could either try to facilitate the deal or work out a separate trade with Toronto involving Capela.

The Mavs attempted to acquire Capela from the Hawks in June, according to Stein, but they refused to part with Josh Green along with the 10th pick in the draft.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Summer League coach Jared Dudley was impressed with both of the Mavericks‘ rookies, grading Dereck Lively II a “seven out of 10” and Olivier-Maxence Prosper a “nine out of 10,” per Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com. “Lively will get there. He has potential. He’s going to be the starting center of the Mavericks one day,” Dudley said. “O-Max is right there. The three-and-D guys, it’s easier to transition. Offense, he’s a bull going at you. He has to work on his decision-making a little when he gets in the paint. But myself and the Dallas Mavericks are happy with what they did.”
  • Spurs rookie Sidy Cissoko‘s ability to attack the basket has stood out during Summer League, observes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. The French forward prepared for the NBA by spending last season in the G League. “I didn’t change my game,” he said. “In my (pre-draft) workouts, I was doing the same thing almost every time. I have this in my game, so I just repeat it over and over. If it is still working, I will not change it.”
  • Jake LaRavia, David Roddy and Ziaire Williams are all possibilities to be the Grizzlies‘ starting small forward when the season begins, according to Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. Memphis didn’t bring in anyone to replace Dillon Brooks after he signed with Houston, so there’s not an obvious choice for the position. Cole adds that once Ja Morant returns from his suspension, he may start alongside Marcus Smart in the backcourt with Desmond Bane sliding to small forward.

Raptors Notes: Rajakovic, Scariolo, Coaching Search

The Raptorsdecision to hire Darko Rajakovic as their next head coach doesn’t provide any clues about what they plan to do with their roster, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Rajakovic is versatile enough to handle either direction, Koreen states, whether it’s trying to win right away with the current core or leading a rebuilding project focused on younger players.

Toronto had a lot of individual talent this season, especially once center Jakob Poeltl was acquired at the trade deadline, but the team couldn’t put together any sustained success, which led to the dismissal of Nick Nurse after the play-in tournament. The Raptors have a decision to make on Poeltl as he enters free agency, along with Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr., who are both expected to turn down their player options and test the market. The team also must decide whether to explore potential trades involving Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby after opting to keep both of them at this year’s deadline.

Regardless of what happens with the team’s stars, Rajakovic will be counted on to develop young players who are able to contribute. Koreen notes that Nurse played his starters more than any other coach this season as draft picks such as Malachi Flynn and Dalano Banton weren’t able to earn rotation roles.

There’s more on the Raptors:

  • Rajakovic will be a huge loss for the Grizzlies‘ coaching staff, per Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. He spent three seasons with Memphis, and as the lead assistant, he filled in whenever Taylor Jenkins was unavailable. Rajakovic also guided the Grizzlies’ Summer League team in 2021, encouraging Desmond Bane to handle the ball more often and working to develop Ziaire Williams in his first NBA experience. “His basketball knowledge is very good, especially on the offensive end,” Williams said. “His schemes and the way he reads the game, it’s pretty different. I haven’t seen it before honestly.”
  • Sergio Scariolo, who was one of the coaches to receive a second interview in Toronto, tweeted a congratulatory message after news of Rajakovic’s hiring broke Saturday afternoon.Congrats and good luck to my good friend coach @DRajakovic!” Scariolo wrote. “Good choice, it’s great to see a European coach having an opportunity to prove his value as an NBA HC ! A heartfelt thank you to the Raptors, receive this consideration from what has been my team was very meaningful!”
  • Many people around the league were perplexed by the length of the Raptors’ coaching search, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Toronto’s interview process was largely conducted in secret, and it took nearly two full months to choose a replacement after Nurse was fired.

Grizzlies Notes: Morant, Jackson, Bane, Adams

Adam Silver will wait until after the NBA Finals to announce Ja Morant‘s punishment for his latest gun-related incident, but the commissioner dropped some hints about the length of a potential suspension during his press conference last week, writes Mark Giannatto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Giannatto examines five statements from Silver to get an idea of what Morant’s suspension might look like. He suggests that the commissioner seemed more disappointed than angry about Morant’s behavior when he talked about creating “better circumstances going forward” for the Grizzlies star.

Silver mentioned the involvement of the players’ union in the process, which Giannatto believes may be encouraging for Morant. He points out that no player has ever been suspended for more than 30 games without being charged with a crime and theorizes that the NBPA won’t let that happen to Morant without putting up a fight.

There’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Appearing on Paul George‘s podcast, Jaren Jackson Jr. expressed support for Morant and said he’s holding up well amid the likelihood of suspension, relays Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. “He’s good,” Jackson said. “That’s my brother, though. No matter what, I stand by my brother, and I think that’s the lesson everybody should take away from this. … Everybody is going to say whatever, but they’re everybody. It never matters at the end of the day. This is your family. This is your brother.”
  • The absence of Morant will make this an especially important season for Desmond Bane, Cole adds in a separate story. Bane, who will be on the final year of his rookie contract, will have to assume a larger leadership role on the team and Cole states that he might have All-Star potential. Cole also points to Santi Aldama, Ziaire Williams, Kenneth Lofton Jr. and Tyus Jones as players to watch heading into next season.
  • The Grizzlies never fully recovered after losing Steven Adams to a right knee injury in January, Cole states in another Commercial Appeal piece. The team’s starting center appeared in a career-low 42 games this season and was especially missed in the playoffs when Memphis was outmuscled in a first-round loss to the Lakers. Cole adds that in addition to his rebounding, the Grizzlies also missed Adams’ screen setting and his leadership as the oldest player on the team.