Steven Adams

Western Notes: Leonard, Wiseman, Vassell, Adams

There’s no timetable for Kawhi Leonard‘s return to action, though coach Tyronn Lue says things are moving in the right direction, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN reports.

Leonard will miss his eighth straight game when the Clippers host Cleveland on Monday. He was sidelined all of last season while rehabbing from a knee injury and has only appeared in two games this season.

“There’s really not a time frame of when he is going to be back,” Lue said. “The biggest thing is just the testing that he has to go through with the medical and the slow progression of just getting better every single day. And so we’re just taking it day by day right now, not really a timetable.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • James Wiseman has made a minimal impact off the Warriors bench, but coach Steve Kerr says the former No. 2 overall pick can handle the stress of his slow start, Shayna Rubin of the San Jose Mercury News tweets. “He knows how to overcome adversity,” Kerr said. “We have to help him because modern life is unforgiving and people don’t take into account organic growth. Everyone wants results right now. It’s not going to be that way.”
  • Spurs swingman Devin Vassell is hopeful that his minutes limit will soon be lifted, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News. Vassell played 25 minutes apiece in two weekend games after missing four games due to a sore knee. “I was itching to get back out there,” Vassell said. “I’ve been sitting the past couple of games, and I was sitting there watching long enough, so I wanted to be out there.”
  • The Grizzlies signed Steven Adams to a two-year extension because he’s the anchor of their interior defense. His toughness and strength continues to marvel his teammates, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. “He makes me feel like I shouldn’t be out here,” said forward Brandon Clarke, who often matches up against Adams in practice. “It’s like I’m trying to get the board and he’s not moving. He’s the strongest person I’ve ever played against.” Adams was out of the lineup on Monday due to ankle soreness, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets.

Grizzlies Notes: Adams, Jackson, Brooks

While young cornerstones like Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr. rightly received much of the credit for the Grizzlies‘ impressive 56-win season in 2021/22, the work that veteran center Steven Adams did for the team on and off the court shouldn’t be overlooked.

As Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes, Adams is comfortable doing the “dirty work” like setting screens on offense and boxing out on defense, and teammates praised his vocal leadership even when he played a limited role in the postseason last spring.

“Culturally, just his personality is a perfect fit,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said. “He’s just a positive impact: on the floor, off the floor.”

The Grizzlies liked what Adams brought to the team enough to offer him a two-year, $25MM+ extension, which he accepted. As Cole relays, the veteran center explained why he chose to sign that deal rather than waiting to become a free agent next summer.

“I never thought that I would be in the league this long,” Adams said. “One of the good things is that it’s with an organization that’s doing something that I believe in. That’s what makes it really enjoyable. The guys, the culture. It’s not really like work.”

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • According to Cole, the Grizzlies gave Adams a list of things to work on in the offseason — those goals included increasing his scoring average (from last season’s 6.9 PPG) and adjusting his defensive game to be able to stay on the floor more often. “He’s excited about the challenges we have laid out for him to continue to be more aggressive on the offensive end, more versatile on the defense end,” Jenkins said.
  • Jaren Jackson Jr.‘s recovery from a right foot injury remains on track, Jenkins stated last week. The Grizzlies’ standout defensive big man hasn’t experienced any setbacks and has made progress since training camp got underway. “He’s starting to do a little more on the court,” Jenkins said, according to Cole. “No contact still. Full-court running, individual vitamins. He’s not just stationary; he’s doing a little bit more dynamic. A step in the right direction compared to how camp started.” The Grizzlies expect to have “more of an update” on Jackson – who was given a recovery timeline of four-to-six months at the end of June – around the start of the regular season, Jenkins added.
  • Despite Dillon Brooks‘ up-and-down shooting numbers in recent years, the Grizzlies have consistently played better when he’s on the floor, according to Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian (subscriber link), who writes that Brooks remains a puzzle to be solved as he enters a contract year. The veteran forward will be an unrestricted free agent in 2023 if he doesn’t sign a contract extension with Memphis before then.
  • In case you missed it, the Grizzlies made a series of minor roster moves on Monday morning. We have the full story here.

Contract Details: Fernando, Herro, Nance, Adams

The Rockets used a portion of their mid-level exception to give Bruno Fernando a four-year deal and a guaranteed salary of $2,717,391 for the 2022/23 season, Hoops Rumors has confirmed. Fernando’s salary will dip to $2,581,522 for 2023/24 before rising back up to $2,717,391 for ’24/25 and increasing to $2,853,260 for ’25/26. As Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets, the second and third years of Fernando’s deal are non-guaranteed, while the fourth year is a team option.

Here are some details on a few more new contracts from around the NBA:

  • Tyler Herro‘s four-year extension with the Heat will pay him annual salaries of $27MM, $29MM, $31MM, and $33MM beginning in 2023/24, for a base value of exactly $120MM, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The deal also includes $2.5MM in annual incentives that are currently considered unlikely.
  • Larry Nance Jr.‘s two-year extension with the Pelicans will pay him $10,375,000 in 2023/24 and $11,205,000 in ’24/25, tweets Anil Gogna of Because Nance’s second-year raise exceeds 5%, he’ll be ineligible to be traded during the 2022/23 season.
  • Steven Adams‘ two-year extension with the Grizzlies features a flat base salary of $12.6MM in both 2023/24 and ’24/25, with no options or incentives, Hoops Rumors has confirmed. Adams’ new deal doesn’t exceed the extend-and-trade limits, so he’ll remain trade-eligible this season.
  • As expected, the recent contracts signed by Kaiser Gates (Nets), Brandon Rachal (Nets), and Sacha Killeya-Jones (Thunder) all included Exhibit 10 language.

Grizzlies Sign Steven Adams To Two-Year Extension

4:13pm: The Grizzlies have officially confirmed Adams’ extension (via Twitter).

4:07pm: Starting center Steven Adams is signing a two-year, $25.2MM extension with the Grizzlies, his agent Darren Matsubara tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Adams will earn $17.9MM in 2022/23, so he’ll actually receive a $5.3MM decrease in annual pay on his new deal with Memphis, which will kick in starting in ’23/24. Wojnarowski calls Adams “an immense culture piece” for a young Grizzlies squad who won 56 games last season.

Despite playing just 26.3 minutes per night in ’21/22, a relatively low average for a starter, Adams led the league in total offensive rebounds (349) and offensive rebounding percentage (17.9%), pulling down an average of 4.6 offensive boards per contest in his first season with Memphis. He’s also one of the league’s strongest players and a bone-crushing screener.

While injuries have sapped some of Adams’ athleticism in recent years, he has evolved his game to adapt. He averaged career-highs of 10.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game last season, the latter an increase of 1.1 over his previous best.

The Grizzlies take advantage of Adams’ passing by running a lot of plays through him in the high post and elbows, using his strength and screening to free the backcourt of Ja Morant and Desmond Bane for open looks. The 29-year-old native of New Zealand is still a solid defender, though not quite as versatile on the perimeter as he once was.

Adams was acquired by Memphis last August as part of the complicated three-team deal that sent Jonas Valanciunas to New Orleans, with multiple draft picks changing hands as well.

In 664 career games with the Thunder, Pelicans and Grizzlies, including 599 starts, Adams holds averages of 9.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists in 26.8 minutes per night. His career field goal percentage (.587) is the eighth-highest mark in league history, the team notes. Adams also has seven seasons of playoff experience, which is undoubtedly valued by a Memphis team hoping to win its first title.

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Williamson, Silas, Adams, Lecque

The Pelicans have never paid the luxury tax but that could change soon, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

Owner Gayle Benson is willing to pay the tax, according to Pelicans executive VP David Griffin, since the team has the ability to become a serious contender.

We’re not bound by, ‘We won’t pay the tax,'” Griffin said. “We will not frivolously pay the tax. If this team is in a position to be as good as we hope to be, I don’t think resources are going to be the reason we won’t get where we need to go.”

The Pelicans are currently approximately $3.6MM below the NBA’s luxury tax line of $150.3MM.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Following a season in which he rehabbed a foot injury, Pelicans big man Zion Williamson left his coach and teammates awestruck in two practices Tuesday, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “What stood out was his force more than anything,” coach Willie Green said. “He got down the floor quickly. When he caught the ball, he made quick decisions. Whether it was scoring, finding a teammate. It was really impressive to see.” Williamson inked a five-year, max extension this summer.
  • Rockets coach Stephen Silas wasn’t thrilled by what he saw during Wednesday’s practice, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “I saw we have a lot of work to do,” Silas said. “(It’s) day two, obviously. We did a good job of putting things in. We scrimmaged quite a bit today and it’s evident, it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s going to be a process for us. We’re going to have to learn from mistakes and watch film and get better as a result.”
  • Steven Adams taking 3-pointers this season? It’s not out of the question. “He’s definitely putting in the work over the summer,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins told Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I even told him if you’re open, shoot it. I want him to be aggressive.” However, Adams hopes to keep it a secret weapon. He’s only made one 3-pointer in 14 career attempts.
  • The Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets’ G League affiliate, acquired the returning player rights to guard Jalen Lecque from the Raptors 905, the team tweets. The Vipers traded away the returning player rights to Christian Vital. Lecque played four games with the Pacers in 2020/21.

Grizzlies Notes: Crowder, Jackson Jr., PF, Clarke, Brooks, Adams, Green

Grizzlies star Ja Morant would like to reunite with former teammate Jae Crowder, who is sitting out training camp as the Suns seek a trade partner for the veteran forward. In reply to Crowder’s tweet about seeking work “where he is wanted..where he is needed,” Morant sent out a “back soon” emoji (Twitter link). In a separate tweet, Morant noted that Crowder hit a game-winning three in overtime to help him get his first NBA win.

Crowder didn’t shoot well in 45 games with Memphis in 2019/20, Morant’s rookie season, but he caught fire with Miami after being dealt away. Crowder has spent the past two seasons with Phoenix after signing a three-year, $29MM deal as a free agent in 2020. He’s making $10.2MM in ’22/23, the final season of his contract.

Here’s more from Memphis:

  • Starting power forward Jaren Jackson Jr. underwent surgery to repair a right foot stress fracture at the end of June, with the team saying he’d miss four-to-six months at that time. At Monday’s Media Day, executive vice president of basketball operations and general manager Zach Kleiman said that timeline remains accurate. However, Jackson said that while he’s unlikely to suit up for opening night, he believes he’s ahead of the team’s schedule (Twitter links via Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian). Jackson hopes to win Defensive Player of the Year in ’22/23 after coming fifth last season, tweets Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I want it badly,” Jackson said.
  • With Jackson injured, second-year big man Santi Aldama was the first name to pop up as a possible replacement in the starting lineup from both Kleiman and head coach Taylor Jenkins, but Jenkins said that there are a number of other candidates for the role, including Brandon Clarke, Ziaire Williams, Dillon Brooks, Xavier Tillman, David Roddy and Jake LaRavia, so it sounds like there might be a training camp battle for the job, or even fluctuate depending on matchups (Twitter links from Cole).
  • Speaking about the contract statuses of Clarke, Brooks and Steven Adams, all of whom are extension-eligible, Kleiman didn’t want to go into specifics of negotiations, but he said the Grizzlies like all three players. “We view them as potential long-term pieces of our group,” Kleiman said, per Cole (via Twitter). Clarke would be a restricted free agent in 2023 if he doesn’t receive an extension, while Brooks and Adams would both be unrestricted. In case you missed, we broke down what an extension for Clarke might look like earlier today.
  • Despite being injured with a torn ACL, it doesn’t sound like veteran wing Danny Green is in danger of being waived anytime soon. “Danny Green is part of this group,” Kleiman said, adding that Memphis expects Green to return in ’22/23. However, his status as a free agent next summer is “to be determined.” (Twitter link via Cole). Green has a nearly $7MM partial guarantee on his $10MM contract this season, so he could be used as a trade chip for salary-matching purposes, but it also makes it expensive to waive him. If the Grizzlies retain Green, Killian Tillie is probably the odd man out, as the team is facing a roster crunch. Tillie will earn a guaranteed $1.9MM this season.

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.”

FA/Trade Rumors: Ayton, Centers, Turner, Beal, Saric, Lakers

Echoing comments made last week by Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article that Suns center Deandre Ayton – a restricted free agent this summer – may be the biggest name to change teams in the coming weeks.

Phoenix is “increasingly expected” to explore sign-and-trade scenarios involving Ayton, according to Stein, who says there’s plenty of skepticism around the NBA about the team’s desire to make a significant financial commitment to the young center.

Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report conveys a similar sentiment in his latest round-up of NBA rumors, suggesting there’s “considerable skepticism” that the Suns will re-sign Ayton. The Pistons, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Hawks, and Raptors have all been mentioned as possible suitors for the former No. 1 overall pick, Stein notes.

Here are a few more updates from Stein and Pincus on some of this year’s top free agents and trade candidates:

  • According to Pincus, some sources believe that the Spurs (Jakob Poeltl), Bulls (Nikola Vucevic), Hawks (Clint Capela/John Collins), and Pacers (Myles Turner) are among the teams that could be willing to move their current centers in a package for one of the offseason’s top available big men (Ayton, Rudy Gobert, etc.). Grizzlies center Steven Adams also may be a summer trade candidate, though he’s well-liked in the locker room, says Pincus.
  • While both Pincus and Stein have talked to sources who believe the Pacers are likely to keep Myles Turner, Stein notes that the situation could change if the big man wants to play out his expiring contract rather than agreeing to an extension, since Indiana may not want to risk losing him for nothing next year.
  • According to Stein, one or two teams hopeful of landing Bradley Beal believe the All-Star guard wants to be the Dirk Nowitzki of D.C., sticking with the Wizards for his entire career.
  • While Dario Saric‘s $9.24MM expiring contract makes him an obvious trade candidate, Pincus writes that the Suns are hopeful the forward can return to form after missing last season due to an ACL tear, and may not be looking to move him.
  • If the Lakers have any hope of trading Russell Westbrook without including a first-round pick, they’ll likely have to take on at least one or two players earning $15-25MM annually on multiyear deals, Pincus writes, citing veterans like Davis Bertans and Duncan Robinson as hypothetical examples. Rival executives and agents don’t expect the Lakers to get clarity from LeBron James on his long-term intentions before the draft or free agency, which will complicate L.A.’s decision-making process — the team would be more comfortable taking on pricey multiyear contracts with a guarantee that LeBron is sticking around long-term, Pincus observes.

Southwest Notes: Morant-Poole, Adams, Pelicans, Doncic

When Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks committed a hard foul on Warriors guard Gary Payton II, in an eventual 106-101 Game 2 Memphis win, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr had harsh words for the play. “There’s a code that players follow,” Kerr said at the time. “Dillion Brooks broke the code.” Payton fractured his elbow and is set to miss three-to-five weeks of postseason play with the injury. Brooks was subsequently suspended for one game.

Now that the shoe is potentially on the other foot, Alex Kennedy of Basketball News wonders if the code was broken once again in Game 3, a 142-112 Warriors win. Warriors guard Jordan Poole grabbed Grizzlies All-Star point guard Ja Morant‘s right knee on a play, and Morant subsequently left the contest with an apparent injury. Morant initially tweeted a video of the Poole foul, while quoting Kerr’s “broke the code” comment. Morant has since wiped that post.

“I don’t have a take,” Kerr said of the interaction, per Mark Medina of (via Twitter). “There’s nothing to comment on.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies center Steven Adams deserves to return to the Memphis starting lineup, opines Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Though the more athletic and switchable Xavier Tillman has supplanted Adams at center for the Grizzlies’ last six contests, Cole believes the rebounding of Adams will be key for Memphis against the smaller Warriors. The burly big man is also excellent at the kinds of little plays that may not show up in box scores, such as devastating screen-setting.
  • The Pelicans have a variety of intriguing roster-building decisions to make during their offseason. Will Guillory of The Athletic discusses a handful of issues for New Orleans this summer, including potential extensions for new additions CJ McCollum and Larry Nance Jr., the team’s future at point guard, the fate of Jaxson Hayes, and more. The first part of Guillory’s series on the Pelicans’ offseason was previously linked here.
  • Mavericks All-Star guard Luka Doncic has flexed plenty of playoff muscle this postseason, leading Dallas to its first second-round appearance in 11 years. Cydney Henderson of USA Today writes that Doncic proved his mettle in his winning both a EuroLeague title and EuroLeague MVP in 2018, prior to arriving stateside in the NBA draft. He has been training his whole life for this moment. Henderson notes that Doncic has been playing basketball since he was seven months old. His father Sasa Doncic was a pro in various European leagues. “I played basketball because (my dad) played basketball,” Doncic said. “I was always with him on the court. Always at the games just shooting basketballs.”

Steven Adams Clears Protocols, Active For Game 3

MAY 6: Adams will be available for Game 3, per Cole (Twittter link). Memphis isn’t sure if he’ll start or come off the bench, but he has made enough progress to play.

MAY 5: Grizzlies center Steven Adams has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols and practiced with the team on Thursday, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Adams has missed the team’s last three playoff games after entering the protocols last week. After leading the league in offensive and total rebounds, the Grizzlies have been outdueled in both of those categories in the first two games of their second-round matchup with the Warriors.

Adams’ possible return for Saturday’s Game 3 would provide a major boost, as he led the NBA in offensive rebounds and offensive rebounding percentage this season and was the team’s top rebounder overall.

We’ll get him another intense vitamin tomorrow, put him through practice, see where he’s at, and then we’ll kind of make a decision from there,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said.

In 76 regular season games in 2021/22, Adams averaged 6.9 points, 10.0 rebounds (4.6 offensive) and 3.4 assists in 26.3 minutes per contest. The rebounds and assists were both career highs.

Due to a poor matchup with Karl-Anthony Towns, Adams dropped out of the rotation during the opening playoff round. After playing 24 minutes in Game 1, Adams logged fewer than seven minutes of action for the rest of the series prior to entering the COVID-19 protocols.