Ziaire Williams

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.

Southwest Notes: Williams, Bufkin, Spurs, Rockets

Grizzlies reserve small forward Ziaire Williams, a lottery pick in 2021, finished the 2022/23 NBA season out of Memphis’ rotation. Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes that a preseason injury seemed to derail the 6’8″ swingman’s second year as a pro, and he failed to evolve as a shooter or playmaker.

Though Williams has been solid when it comes to converting his looks around the rack and in the mid-range, Cole opines that the wing’s shot diet is weighted too heavily toward his poor three-point shooting, which is impacting his overall efficiency on offense.

In his 37 games with Memphis last year, Williams averaged 5.7 PPG on .429/.258/.773 shooting.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Michigan combo guard Kobe Bufkin could be a perfect fit for the Pelicans with the No. 14 draft pick next month, opines Christian Clark of NOLA.com. The athletic, positionally versatile lefty took a giant leap during his sophomore college season, and projects as a solid two-way contributor at the next level.
  • The Spurs have added San Antonio businesswoman Kimberly Lewis, founder of investment management group KSL Resources, to their ownership group, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “Kim Lewis’ business acumen and deep-rooted knowledge of our community brings immeasurable value to our organization,” managing partner Peter J. Holt said in a statement. “We look forward to learning from her as we strive to strengthen our organization and embark on our shared mission of enhancing community impact.”
  • Having likely missed out on the opportunity to select one of the consensus top three prospects in this year’s draft, the rebuilding Rockets may decide to expedite their rebuild and move on from their No. 4 pick in this year’s draft. Kelly Iko of The Athletic brainstorms some hypothetical deals that could benefit Houston. “The biggest thing is we now have certainty about the pick number,” general manager Rafael Stone told Iko. “This is a super busy month for us and the two times trades happen are around the trade deadline and the draft. We can start to evaluate various trade options, we can really think through free agency.” Iko considers deals for targets like Raptors swingman OG Anunoby and Hawks vets Dejounte Murray and John Collins, among others.

Western Notes: Landale, Grizzlies, Towns, Gobert

Backup center Jock Landale, who will be a restricted free agent if Phoenix gives him a qualifying offer, hopes to remain with the Suns long term.

“This is a city and a fanbase and an organization I’d love to be a part of for the rest of my career if I could,” Landale said (Twitter video link via PHNX Suns).

The 27-year-old Australian had relatively modest numbers in the regular season, averaging 6.6 PPG and 4.1 RPG in 69 games (14.2 MPG).

However, after making just one brief appearance in Phoenix’s five-game series against the Clippers, Landale made his mark against Denver, as Phoenix was plus-34 over his 106 minutes in the series, with a positive plus/minus in five of his six games despite the club losing four of those contests and ultimately getting eliminated.

Here’s more from the West:

Grizzlies Notes: Adams’ Absence, Jackson, Williams, Morant

Now that they know they can’t count on having Steven Adams back for the playoffs, the Grizzlies must embrace the new identity they’ve been establishing without Adams – and his offensive rebounding and screen setting – available, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

As Cole outlines, that means Jaren Jackson Jr. may face more challenging defensive assignments in the postseason and that everyone will have to help out on the glass, including guards Ja Morant and Desmond Bane.

Cole also suggests that the Grizzlies should look to take advantage of the added versatility of their Adams-less lineups, since having David Roddy, Xavier Tillman, or Santi Aldama on the court makes the team more switchable on defense.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Jackson believes he should win this season’s Defensive Player of the Year award, telling Tim MacMahon of ESPN that he wants it “bad.” However, while Jackson’s ability to protect the rim and anchor the Grizzlies’ defense was his greatest asset during the regular season, his scoring on offense might ultimately determine how high the team’s ceiling is this spring, according to MacMahon, who notes that the big man averaged 22.7 points per game on 51.1% shooting in the nine games Morant missed in March.
  • Writing for the Commercial Appeal, Cole looks back at the Grizzlies’ decision to select Ziaire Williams at No. 10 in the 2021 draft. Williams spent much of the 2022/23 season playing in the G League and battling injuries. Meanwhile, Trey Murphy – whom the Pelicans selected with the No. 17 pick they received from Memphis in the trade that also included the No. 10 pick, Adams, and Jonas Valanciunas – has enjoyed a breakout year in New Orleans, averaging 20.4 points per game on .506/.453/.903 shooting in his last 18 games.
  • In an exclusive report, Gus Garcia-Roberts and Molly Hensley-Clancy of The Washington Post provide more details on the off-court incidents that Morant was involved in during the past year and suggest that local police didn’t investigate those incidents as thoroughly as they could have. The Post’s duo identified and interviewed the teenager who was punched by the Grizzlies guard in a pickup game and spoke to a shoe salesman at a Memphis mall who said he was shaken up after allegedly being threatened by Morant.

Injury Notes: Brunson, Bulls, Cavaliers, KAT, Grizzlies

Knicks starting point guard Jalen Brunson will miss his second straight game on Monday with a sprained right hand, the team has announced (Twitter link).

The 6’1″ Brunson is enjoying a career season with his new club. Across 65 healthy games, he’s averaging 23.8 PPG on .489/.411/.833 shooting. The 26-year-old is also averaging 6.2 APG, 3.6 RPG and 0.9 SPG for New York.

Reserve guard Derrick Rose, who has been out of the rotation since the calendar rolled over to 2023, will also be inactive for this evening’s bout against the Rockets due to an illness, the Knicks add.

Here are some more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Bulls forward Javonte Green, who continues to recover from a January knee surgery after making a brief return to the lineup last week, will be out tonight against the Clippers, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). Johnson adds that veteran Chicago guard Alex Caruso is considered questionable to play.
  • Several Cavaliers players comprise the club’s injury report ahead of the team’s game Tuesday against the Hawks, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter links). Starting center Jarrett Allen is questionable with a groin strain, while starting small forward Isaac Okoro is also questionable due to a sore knee. Swingman Danny Green and point guard Raul Neto will not play. Wing Dean Wade is doubtful to play through an illness. Isaiah Mobley, Sam Merrill and Dylan Windler are all going to be working with Cleveland’s NBAGL affiliate, the Cleveland Charge.
  • Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns will sit out tonight’s game against the Kings as he manages his right calf strain injury on the second night of a back-to-back, the team has announced (Twitter link). Two-way player Matt Ryan is out with an illness. All-Star shooting guard Anthony Edwards is questionable due to a sprained right ankle. Guard Jaylen Nowell is also questionable with a left knee tendinopathy.
  • At least five Grizzlies players will be shelved for Tuesday’s contest against the Magic, Memphis has announced (via Twitter). Beyond Brandon Clarke, who’s out for the year with a left Achilles tear, Ziaire Williams, Vince Williams, Jake LaRavia and Steven Adams are all also sidelined. All-Star point guard Ja Morant is considered doubtful to play due to a sore right thigh.

Grizzlies Notes: Williams, Kennard, Jackson, Morant

Grizzlies wing Ziaire Williams is considered week-to-week due to right foot and ankle soreness, the team announced on Saturday (Twitter link).

As a result of injuries and Memphis’ depth, Williams has played less this season than he did as a rookie. After starting 31 of his 62 appearances last season and averaging 21.7 minutes per night, he has logged just 14.7 MPG in 36 contests (three starts) this season. His shooting numbers (.424/.247/.778) have also dipped this season, so he’s extremely unlikely to have a regular rotation role in the playoffs even if he does get healthy by then.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Acquired at last month’s trade deadline, Luke Kennard has already entered the Grizzlies’ record books, having knocked down a franchise-record 10 three-pointers in Friday’s blowout win over Houston, Damichael Cole writes for The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Kennard, who went 10-of-11 on threes, became the first player in league history to shoot at least 90% of the field while making at least 10 three-pointers (Twitter link).
  • The Grizzlies have been challenging Kennard to be more aggressive in seeking out his shot and the veteran wing has helped add stability to an inconsistent area of the team’s offense, according to Cole at The Commerical Appeal.
  • In the latest episode of their podcast, Cole and Evan Barnes of The Commercial Appeal discuss how Jaren Jackson Jr.‘s recent offensive surge and the return of Ja Morant will raise the Grizzlies’ ceiling entering the postseason.
  • In case you missed it, the Grizzlies became the second Western Conference team to clinch a playoff spot this season, doing so on Friday night (Twitter link). Memphis is 3.5 games back of Denver for the No. 1 seed in the conference and has a 1.5-game cushion on No. 3 Sacramento

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Williams, Spurs, Sengun

The Pelicans’ inept offense has put them on the verge of a total collapse, William Guillory of The Athletic writes.

Despite Zion Williamson‘s hamstring injury, the Pelicans should have enough depth to hold their own. But even when Brandon Ingram returned from a long-term toe injury, the team continued to sink. New Orleans has a 110.9 offensive rating since Ingram rejoined the lineup, which ranks 23rd during that span, Guillory notes. The club is also shooting just 32.4% on 3-point attempts during that time.

Jose Alvarado and Larry Nance Jr. are now out for multiple weeks, further complicating the Pelicans’ issues.

We have more from the Southwest Divsision:

  • Ziaire Williams, a 2021 lottery pick, has bounced between the NBA and the G League this season. The Grizzlies forward played well for the Memphis Hustle and was recalled on Saturday but he’s not guaranteed of staying with the Grizzlies the rest of the way. “He’s taken full advantage of his G League opportunities as well but we haven’t made those firm decisions on what it’s going to look like on a week-to-week basis,” coach Taylor Jenkins told Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
  • The Spurs are one of the prime contenders for the top pick in the draft but the players aren’t thrilled about the losses piling up, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. “We’re trying to get some wins to end the season, man,” center Zach Collins said. “We can’t fall into the trap of, ‘It’s OK that we’re losing.’”
  • Rockets big man Alperen Sengun is cognizant that he’s not getting crunch time minutes because he needs to improve defensively, Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle tweets. “I just need to be focused on pick-and-roll defense, I think. I can do better job,” he said.

Scotto’s Latest: Reid, Allen, Reddish, Poeltl, Anunoby

The Clippers and Nuggets are among the teams that have expressed interest in Timberwolves center Naz Reid, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype writes in his latest roundup of trade rumors.

Reid will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and Scotto says there’s a belief around the league that he could land a contract worth the full taxpayer or non-taxpayer mid-level exception. Although he’s primarily a backup, Reid has been effective amid injuries to Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, averaging 15.4 PPG in seven games as a starter this season.

The Wolves are also exploring offers for D’Angelo Russell, and Scotto suggests that both Minnesota players might be moved in deals involving L.A.’s Terance Mann or Denver’s Bones Hyland, whom Connelly drafted during his time with the Nuggets.

Scotto offers more insight into the trade market with the deadline nearing:

  • The Knicks would like to acquire Grayson Allen from the Bucks as part of a deal involving Cam Reddish, although Scotto notes that might not be realistic given Allen’s inclusion in other trade rumors. Allen is a starter in Milwaukee and is a valuable shooter, connecting at 39.5% from three-point range, while Reddish has been benched in New York for the past 25 games. Allen has been mentioned in deals involving the Suns’ Jae Crowder and the Rockets’ Eric Gordon, which Scotto sees as more likely. However, he adds that the Bucks and Knicks have talked about a Reddish deal that doesn’t involve Allen, so the fourth-year forward could still wind up in Milwaukee.
  • The Spurs may be able to land a first-round pick and a young player in exchange for center Jakob Poeltl. That’s probably the limit, Scotto adds, because Poeltl will be a free agent this summer and will likely get a new contract starting around $20MM per season. If they don’t trade him by the deadline, Scotto expects the Spurs to give him that deal so they don’t lose him without getting something in return.
  • Two other Spurs are also in demand, with Scotto viewing one or two second-round picks as the price for Doug McDermott and one second-rounder enough to land Josh Richardson. McDermott is under contract for $13.75MM in 2023/24, while Richardson is headed toward free agency.
  • The Grizzlies are an interesting team to watch if the Raptors decide to part with OG Anunoby, Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype adds in the same piece. Memphis owns all its first-round picks, along with a Warriors first-rounder in 2024 that’s top-four protected. Gozlan believes the Grizzlies might offer Danny Green and a young asset like Ziaire Williams in addition to draft capital, although Toronto might insist on Dillon Brooks. Other teams that could get involved in the Anunoby bidding, according to Gozlan, include the Trail Blazers, who reportedly offered the No. 7 pick to Toronto for Anunoby before last year’s draft, along with the Knicks, Kings and Suns.

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Z. Williams, Zion, Spurs

The Grizzlies have become a target since Ja Morant proclaimed they don’t fear any other Western Conference contender, but Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes that it’s going to take a lot more than Sunday’s loss to the Warriors to shake their confidence.

The Christmas Day showdown was filled with the chippiness that has defined the rivalry between the two teams since last season’s playoffs. Golden State had six technical fouls, Draymond Green yelled toward Morant after blocking one of his shots, Klay Thompson taunted Dillon Brooks, and Jordan Poole was ejected in the fourth quarter.

Both teams have a tendency to be vocal, and Desmond Bane explained that it’s part of the Grizzlies’ personality.

“That’s in us,” he said. “That’s not something that comes and goes. It’s what we believe, it’s how we we feel. There ain’t nothing that’s going to change this swag. We can go on a six-game losing streak, and we’re still going to carry the same swag and same chip on our shoulder at all times.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies forward Ziaire Williams continues to struggle after missing the first 24 games of the season with right patellar tendinitis, Cole adds in the same story. Williams made just one of five shots from the field Sunday, but he believes he’s headed in the right direction. “I’m confident right now, to be honest with you,” Williams said. “I’m just not making shots. If I make two more shots per game, I’m playing well and it’s a whole different perspective. I’m sticking with it.”
  • The Pelicans are listing Zion Williamson as doubtful for Monday’s game against the Pacers, citing “return to competition reconditioning,” according to Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com. It would be the third straight missed game for Williamson, who is part of a long injury list for New Orleans.
  • Like many young teams, the Spurs are still learning how to be competitive for all 48 minutes of a game, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. The team suffered through lopsided stretches in a pair of losses last week at New Orleans and Orlando. “We are still a young group, but we have smart players, young guys who want to listen and get better,” Josh Richardson said. “Hopefully, one of these days it really starts kicking in. I think it just takes us stringing together a couple of games where we do play that full 48 to see what it looks like, to see how hard you have to play the whole game. Then, hopefully, that becomes the standard.”

Injury Updates: Harden, Wiggins, Poole, Grizzlies, Jazz

James Harden is on track to return tonight for the Sixers as they face the Rockets in Houston, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The star guard has been sidelined for a month with a right foot strain, missing 14 games in the process.

As much as I love basketball, I want to be out there to compete, especially for my teammates,” Harden said. “So this month has been patience, putting the work in, making sure I’m ready to come back and help this team get to where we can get to.”

Head coach Doc Rivers indicated on Sunday that Harden would be on a minutes restriction.

Hopeful, he’ll be ready for [Monday],” Rivers said. “And if he is, he’ll be in a limited role. But it’s still better to have him than not, if we can have him.”

After winning four of five, the Sixers have dropped two straight games and currently hold a 12-11 record.

Here are some more injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins will miss Monday’s contest against the Pacers with right adductor tightness, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Golden State guard Jordan Poole is questionable with an ankle injury, which he suffered on Saturday.
  • Grizzlies star Ja Morant is doubtful for tonight’s game vs. Miami due to left ankle soreness, Memphis announced (via Twitter). In addition to Morant, injury-replacement starter John Konchar (right toe soreness) and rookie forward Jake LaRavia (left foot soreness) are also doubtful, while All-Defensive big man Jaren Jackson Jr. has been ruled out on the second of a back-to-back for injury management (he had offseason foot surgery and just returned a few weeks ago). On a positive note, second-year wing Ziaire Williams, who has yet to play this season due to right patellar tendinitis, is listed as doubtful instead of out for the first time and was sent to the G League to practice ahead of Monday’s game (Twitter link). Head coach Taylor Jenkins recently said Williams was nearing a return.
  • Jazz veterans Mike Conley (knee) and Rudy Gay (hand) were full participants in Monday’s practice and both hope to play on Wednesday against Golden State, though they’re still experiencing some pain (All Twitter links via Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune). If Conley returns Wednesday, he’ll likely be on a minutes restriction, tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. The Jazz have missed Conley’s steadying influence, going just 2-6 over the past two weeks without their starting point guard.