Tyus Jones

Grizzlies Notes: Jones, Offseason, Clarke

Although he said it’s not the “end all, be all” for him, Grizzlies point guard Tyus Jones admitted in his end-of-season press conference that he’d like to be a starter, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“You always strive for more, but at the same time with that being said, I’ve always viewed myself as a starter, even coming off the bench,” Jones said. “A lot of times being called one of the best backups in the league, I never called myself that. I always just viewed that I was just a starter that’s coming of the bench. That’s always been my mindset.”

Jones will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and Cole notes that the Grizzlies will be at a disadvantage if Jones prioritizes the opportunity to play a starting role, given that Ja Morant is obviously the team’s long-term starter at point guard.

However, executive VP of basketball operations Zach Kleiman indicated the Grizzlies have interest in re-signing Jones, referring to him as a player who has “always been kind of like a cultural, foundational type piece for the group.” And, for his part, Jones hasn’t signaled that he plans to leave Memphis.

“It’s definitely not going to be an easy decision by any means,” Jones said of his upcoming free agency. “I don’t have my mind made up one way or another.”

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Kleiman was happy with what the Grizzlies accomplished in 2021/22, but made it clear that he believes there’s still room to improve, per Michael Wallace of Grind City Media. “The goal is, and continues to be, to win a championship here,” Kleiman said. “The decision-making North Star continues to be what’s going to maximize our chances of doing so, building in a sustainable way. I’m excited to see what opportunities there are to make us better. We’re going to look at everything on the table… to increase our likelihood of getting us to the point we believe we can get to.”
  • Head coach Taylor Jenkins conveyed a similar sentiment in his end-of-season comments, as Wallace relays: “It’s been an unbelievable year, but there are also plenty of ways we can get better. Our guys on this team have never wavered in their ability to adjust and adapt to whatever challenges we’ve faced. And we’ve found success together. After a win, after a loss, no matter, we found ways to stick with our values and get better from it. We take that same mindset into the offseason.”
  • Coming off a strong year as a rotation player, Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer and earned plenty of praise from Kleiman at season’s end this weekend. “Brandon had a great year, and he and the coaches leaned into what he’s great at,” Kleiman said, per Parker Fleming of Grizzly Bear Blues (Twitter link). “We’re in a great place with Brandon, and he fits great with what we’re trying to do.”
  • In a subscriber-only story, Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian explores what’s next for the Grizzlies following their second-round elimination.
  • In case you missed it, we passed along a pair of Ja Morant news items on Sunday night.

Grizzlies Notes: Green, Curry, Bane, Morant, Offseason

The Warriors are moving on to the Western Conference finals but they anticipate the Grizzlies will be making plenty of deep playoff runs in the future. Draymond Green and Stephen Curry offered high praise to their vanquished opponent after Friday’s decisive Game 6, Sam Amick of The Athletic relays.

“That’s a group of young guys who — obviously, you get to the business side of things, and you’ve got to keep that together — but that’s a group of young guys that are hungry,” Green said. “They are talented. They are athletic. They got it. You know, it will be good to see their progression over these next few years and where they can take it, because that’s an incredible young team. You know, they can be special. They can be really special.”

“There’s definitely an understanding that they made us better. I’m sure we made them better,” Curry said. “And who knows what happens down the road, but they will be here for a long time just because they have a lot going for them. So, definitely respect.”

We have more on the Grizzlies:

  • Desmond Bane, who scored 25 points in Game 6, battled lower back soreness during the postseason. He put the blame on himself, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal tweets“I pride myself on being healthy, and getting hurt, kind of tweaking my back at a time like this kind of shows me that I probably got to do more in the offseason to be able to withstand the long minutes and long season,” he said.
  • After Game 5, there was a sense that the ball moved better without Ja Morant on the floor. Games 4 and 6 showed how much the Grizzlies missed their All-Star point guard in crunch time, Cole writes. It all suggests there’s another level they can reach when he’s to the floor, if they find more outside shooting.
  • Signing Morant to a max rookie scale extension will be the highlight of the summer, Bobby Marks of ESPN writes in his Grizzlies offseason guide. Morant’s backup, Tyus Jones, is eligible to sign a four-year $55.8MM extension until June 30 and bringing him back should be another offseason priority, either on an extension or a new free agent deal. The Grizzlies also have two first-round picks in the upcoming draft.
  • The Grizzlies might also look for an upgrade at center. Rudy Gobert, Myles Turner and Jakob Poeltl could be potential targets, HoopsHype’s Yossi Gozlan speculates in his offseason preview.

Grizzlies Notes: Morant, Anderson, Brooks, Jackson

Taking into account both regular season games and postseason contests, the Grizzlies now have a 21-6 record without Ja Morant this season, and that mark may actually understate how well they’ve played without their All-Star point guard, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic. Sixteen of those 21 wins have been by double-digits, including a 73-point rout of Oklahoma City in December.

The Grizzlies’ depth is one reason why they’ve been so effective when Morant has been unavailable, and the point guard’s subpar defensive numbers are another, Hollinger observes. The Grizzlies gave up more points per possession with Morant on the court than with any other single player on the court this season.

However, digging further into the data, Hollinger unearths several more interesting details, including Dillon Brooks‘ positive impact on the Grizzlies (especially defensively) and how infrequently he and Morant played together this season. The Grizzlies’ performance with and without Morant has also been skewed by their opponents’ shooting luck, which is one reason why Hollinger, unsurprisingly, concludes the team isn’t actually better off without the 22-year-old.

Interestingly, Hollinger’s data shows that the Grizzlies have actually played well with no true point guard on the court, with Kyle Anderson serving as the primary ball-handler. Hollinger suggests that could be a factor in how the team approaches Anderson’s and Tyus Jones‘ free agencies this summer.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • As expected, Morant has been officially ruled out of Friday’s Game 6 vs. Golden State due to the bone bruise in his right knee, per the Grizzlies (Twitter link). Santi Aldama (right knee soreness) and Killian Tillie (lower back procedure recovery) also remain sidelined.
  • After a 5-of-19 shooting performance with four turnovers in Game 4, Dillon Brooks bounced back in Game 5. Although he had just 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting, Brooks didn’t turn the ball over and was an eye-popping plus-38 in just 24 minutes. He suggested after the game that there’s still room for improvement. “I’m my worst critic. I know I’m playing like trash,” Brooks said, per ClutchPoints (video link). “I know I’m not shooting the three well, but I’m trying to do all the little things.”
  • Jaren Jackson Jr., who bested Brooks with a plus-42 mark in just 25 minutes on Wednesday, is realizing how dominant he can be at just the right time, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “He’s the key,” Brooks said of Jackson. “They’ve got no one to guard him. No one to stop him. He needs to keep demanding the ball and the Warriors are going to have to adjust and double-team him soon. He’s going to have to learn how to pass the ball out to get his teammates shots. That’s what he needs to do. I try to tell him to stay aggressive, and you’re a walking mismatch out there for every single player that guards you, so just keep attacking.”
  • Although the Grizzlies will be playing on the road and missing their best player, Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal isn’t convinced the team’s season will come to an end on Friday in Golden State.
  • In case you missed it, Grizzlies head of basketball operations Zach Kleiman was named the NBA’s Executive of the Year on Thursday.

Deveney’s Latest: A. Davis, Schröder, Bulls, Knicks

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said last week that “numerous” league executives suggested to him that Lakers star Anthony Davis doesn’t have significant trade value due to his injury history. However, execs who spoke to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com scoffed at that idea.

One general manager told Deveney that there would be “29 teams ready with offers” if the Lakers made Davis available. An Eastern Conference executive said the idea of Davis not having much value is “crazy.”

“Look, it is beauty in the eye of the beholder. But he is an elite talent and he is 29 years old,” the East exec told Deveney. “Everybody wants him, everybody thinks that if they get their hands on him, they can keep him healthy, etc., etc.

“Now, can you get the kind of offer the Lakers gave up when they traded for him (in 2019)? No, of course not. But a team like Chicago, where he is from, they would bend over backwards to get him. Dallas, putting him with Luka (Doncic)? Of course, they would. Phoenix, Miami, any team that really wants to take that next step. The injury is a risk, but the payoff you get if you can keep him on the floor is worth it.”

While there seems to be no real consensus on Davis’ value, it may be a moot point this offseason, since there’s no indication the Lakers would consider moving him.

Here’s more from Deveney:

  • It’s possible the Rockets will re-sign free agent point guard Dennis Schröder and then look to trade him during the 2022/23 season, like Boston did this past year, a source tells Deveney. Although Deveney suggests Houston could use part of its mid-level exception to retain Schröder, the Non-Bird exception would allow an offer up to about $7MM, which could be enough. It’s also worth pointing out that signing a one-year deal with the Rockets would give Schröder the ability to veto a trade next season.
  • The Bulls are one team to watch as a potential free agent suitor for Schröder, but probably only if they trade Coby White, according to Deveney, who notes that Schröder had his best year playing for Billy Donovan in Oklahoma City in 2019/20.
  • Executives around the NBA believe the Knicks – who added Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker last summer – are more likely to pursue “young-ish” players with some upside this offseason rather than going after veterans again. Deveney mentions Tyus Jones, Mohamed Bamba, Chris Boucher, and Schröder as possible targets, though he acknowledges that some of those players aren’t particularly young.

Morant Out For Game 4; Kerr Enters Protocols

Ja Morant will miss Game 4 of the Grizzlies’ series against the Warriors on Monday, coach Taylor Jenkins told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk (Twitter link) and other media members during his pregame press conference.

Morant was expected to sit out. He suffered a knee injury in Game 3 and will continue receiving treatment. He’s considered day-to-day, which opens the door for a possible Game 5 return.

Morant finished Game 3 with a game-high 34 points, seven assists and three steals in 36 minutes. The Warriors’ Jordan Poole tugged on Morant’s right knee as he was swiping for the ball during the fourth quarter.

Tyus Jones will start in Morant’s place, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets.

The Warriors won’t have their head coach on the sidelines. Steve Kerr has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. Associate head coach Mike Brown, who was officially named the Kings’ head coach on Monday but remains on Golden State’s bench through the playoffs, will serve as acting coach.

Kerr had been wearing a mask in recent days and his voice was hoarse during press conferences, Slater adds in another tweet.

Atlantic Notes: Jones, Embiid, Sixers-Heat

Grizzlies reserve guard Tyus Jones might be a consolation prize for the Knicks if New York strikes out on Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson in free agency this summer, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Jones has a history with Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, as he was the backup point guard during Thibodeau’s three seasons with the Timberwolves. Berman notes that league sources project Jones to net a deal in the range of the full non-taxpayer midlevel exception, worth $10.2MM this season.

“I love him,’’ one NBA coach said to Berman. “He has to be one of the best backup point guards in the league, if not the best.’’

The 25-year-old out of Duke set a league record for the best assist-to-turnover ratio ever this year of 7.4-to-1 across 73 regular season games. During 21.2 MPG this season, Jones averaged 8.7 PPG on .451/.390/.818 shooting splits, plus 4.4 APG. Though he is not a consistent interior scorer, Jones has proven himself to be a good shooter and effective ball handler.

Jones and the Grizzlies are currently locked into a hotly contested second-round matchup with the Warriors. Golden State leads 2-1.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers center Joel Embiid may be able to will his club to a series victory against Miami thanks in large part to his terrific defensive effort, writes Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Heat made just 35.1% of their field goals in a blowout 99-79 Game 3 Sixers victory Friday. In his first healthy game of the series, Embiid rendered center Bam Adebayo largely ineffective — Adebayo went just 2-of-9 from the floor and was a game-worst minus-22. “What I pride myself on is, really, defensively,” Embiid said. “That’s really one of the reasons why, (by) playing, I thought I could have a huge impact.” David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that Embiid’s return has reinvigorated the Sixers on both ends of the floor, and gives them a real shot to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • Though Embiid proved the driving force behind the Sixers‘ Game 3 win against the Heat, the team is aware it still needs to focus on the road ahead in its second-round series, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Embiid scored 18 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the floor and pulled down 11 rebounds. “We’re down 2-1, so we got a long way to go,” Embiid said. “We can’t go down 3-1. So we really need this game on Sunday.”
  • In case you missed it, the Celtics are frustrated with the way referees called a late foul during an eventual 103-101 Game 3 loss to the Bucks on Saturday.

Wolves Notes: Russell, McLaughlin, T. Jones, Edwards, McDaniels, Gupta

D’Angelo Russell was upset about being kept on the bench during the closing minutes of Friday’s Game 6 loss, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. With their season on the line, the Timberwolves opted to trust reserve point guard Jordan McLaughlin instead of Russell.

It was a tough way to end the series for Russell, and he responded, “No. Not at all,” when asked if he was OK with coach Chris Finch’s decision. Russell had seven points and four turnovers in Game 6 and averaged 12 PPG and shot 33% throughout the series.

“We still think the fit is great,” Finch said of Russell. “His skill set, his play-making, all that stuff hasn’t changed. We’ve just got to figure out maybe some different sets or structures that kind of accentuate those things too. I could’ve done a better job of trying to get him into the series a little bit more with some plays for him maybe off the ball.”

The poor series came at an unfortunate time for Russell, who will be eligible for a four-year extension starting in July that could pay him up to $40M+ per season. Hine believes it’s unlikely the Wolves will make that offer and he questions Russell’s future with the team, especially now that Gersson Rosas, who brought him to Minnesota, is no longer with the organization.

“I don’t like to speak on that,” Russell said when asked about the extension. “It kind of comes back to haunt you a lot of the times. There’s nothing more that I can do to showcase my worth or the number that I’m looking for or anything like that. I would just rather not entertain myself with that until the time comes.”

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • The Wolves should commit to McLaughlin rather than Russell and should consider bringing back Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones in free agency, argues Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune. Jones played his first four seasons in Minnesota before signing with Memphis in 2019.
  • The team had to be impressed by its two youngest players, Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels, who both shined in their first playoff tests, states Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. After the Game 6 elimination, Edwards invited his teammates to train with him this summer, and McDaniels said he’ll spend part of the offseason working out with Clippers star Kawhi Leonard“The best path for us still is our internal growth, which is the exciting part with Jaden and Ant and the performances they can leave the season on,” Finch said.
  • Finch supports a permanent role for executive vice president Sachin Gupta, who has been running the team since Rosas was fired in September, Hine adds in a separate story.

Central Notes: Bagley, Jones, Wright, Dragic, Bulls

The Pistons are prepared to make a three-year offer to restricted free agent Marvin Bagley III, James Edwards III of The Athletic reports. He fit a need for an athletic big man, which is why they traded for him just before the deadline. However, Bagley may seek a shorter deal and test the open market if his stock rises, so that he can get a bigger payday.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • It has been reported that the Cavaliers would entertain a reunion with free agent guard Ricky Rubio. However, there are other options on the table to provide backcourt depth, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Cavs are also expected to show interest in several other unrestricted free agents, including Tyus Jones, Delon Wright, Raul Neto and Goran Dragic, says Fedor.
  • Which players should the Bulls retain and which ones should they shed? Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic takes a closer look at that topic in a player-by-player breakdown. Mayberry’s position on unrestricted free agent Zach LaVine? He’s one of the keepers.
  • DeMar DeRozan said he’s open to recruiting players to Chicago, but Bulls coach Billy Donovan said no matter what happens in the offseason, expectations need to be tempered, Jon Greenberg of The Athletic writes. “I think you have to be careful, and what I mean by that is, we got off to a really, really good start this year,” he said. “And it was really impressive to me with a new group that hadn’t had a lot of time together that they could jell and mesh the way they did. We’ll actually have to work harder going into this offseason and next year to even get back to this point.”

Grizzlies Notes: Morant, Jones, Jenkins, Adams

Grizzlies star Ja Morant suffered a left thigh injury in the Game 2 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday, according to Nick Gray of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Morant was hit by a hip-check screen from Karl-Anthony Towns in the third quarter and went down in pain, but was able to return to action in the fourth quarter with his leg wrapped, Gray notes.

Morant finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists on 9-of-16 shooting in 30 minutes of action, recording a +24 plus/minus, tied for the highest in the game. It’s unclear if the injury will impact Morant’s availability or performance going forward, but it’s definitely worth monitoring. Memphis evened the series at one game apiece with the 124-96 win.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Backup point guard Tyus Jones has been a nice fit for Memphis, Chris Hine of The Star Tribune  writes, as the Minnesota native returns home to face his former team. “He’s just a great connector out there. I love the spirit, leadership he plays with, the way he moves the ball,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said. “He’s improved defensively from the first two years we’ve been here. He’s taken ownership there. I love how he’s shooting the ball as well. Obviously when he’s played a bigger role, he’s filled those shoes brilliantly. He plays so well, plays great team basketball.” Jones averaged a career-high 8.7 PPG and shot a career-best 39% from three this season in addition to leading the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio for the fourth consecutive year. The 25-year-old is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
  • Jenkins’ “gut call” to pull Steven Adams in favor of a smaller lineup paid off in Game 2, per Fred Katz of The Athletic. Adams played just under three minutes prior to picking up a couple of early fouls and sat out the remainder of the game. Xavier Tillman Sr. provided an energetic lift off the bench, scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds in 21 minutes after not playing at all in Game 1. Tillman has been out of the team’s rotation for parts of 2021/22, appearing in 53 games with an average of just 13.2 minutes per contest during the regular season.
  • Morant’s adjustments to better control the flow of the action also proved crucial to the victory, Katz relays in the same article. Morant was especially lethal in the third quarter when the Grizzlies went on a big run, scoring 12 points and handing out three assists. “I felt like I balanced very well looking for my shot and also making the extra pass,” Morant said. “It got us some open looks, and the lead went up from there.”

Southwest Notes: Gobert, Mavs, Morant, Tyus Jones, Hayes

In an appearance on The Lowe Post podcast, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said the Mavericks would have “significant interest” in Jazz center Rudy Gobert if Utah makes him available this summer. Gobert would also “love to play with Luka (Doncic),” according to MacMahon (hat tip ProCity Hoops via Twitter).

Gobert would prefer to stay in Utah, MacMahon stated, but Dallas would be “very aggressive” in pursuit of the three-time Defensive Player of the Year if he’s put on the market.

Of course, this talk was based on Utah’s performance in the playoffs this season, as the team could make major changes if it’s unsuccessful in making a deep playoff run — it could even be a championship-or-bust scenario, depending on how certain players react. Still, it’s interesting that the Mavs apparently value Gobert so highly, given his pricey contract over the next several years.

Here are a few more notes from the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said that Ja Morant is starting to ramp up his activity and is “feeling good,” according to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal (Twitter link). Morant’s sore right knee is expected to be reevaluated next Thursday. He’s expected to be back for the team’s playoff run.
  • Tyus Jones‘ strong play starting in place of Morant could make him too expensive for the Grizzlies to keep this summer, Cole writes. Jones is leading the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio for the fourth straight season and could be in line for a raise on the $8.4MM he’s earning in 2021/22. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer in a pretty weak point guard class. In 21 starts this season, Jones is averaging 12.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 6.8 against 0.95 TOPG, a ratio of about 7-to-1. He’s also a solid defender and sports a .450/.373/.838 shooting line in 30.3 MPG as a starter.
  • After switching from center to power forward, Jaxson Hayes‘ future in the league looks bright, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. The former first-round pick is eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer, but multiple sources think an extension might be unlikely, Clark relays. One reason for that is Hayes has some positional overlap with Zion Williamson, so New Orleans might want to see how they fit together before committing to Hayes long-term. Assuming he sticks with the Pelicans through next season and doesn’t sign an extension, Hayes would become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2023 if the team gives him a qualifying offer.