Tyus Jones

Western Notes: Morris, Drummond, Jones, Toscano-Anderson

Markieff Morris has served as an unsung hero for the Lakers in the absences of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes.

Morris, 31, has given Los Angeles a steady level of production in his 10th NBA season. In 49 games with the team (25 starts), the veteran has averaged 7.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 20.5 minutes per contest, shooting 44% from the floor and 35% from deep.

“I mean, (expletive), look at my production throughout my career,” Morris said. “I would think they would know I could be this consistent. Everybody’s trying to judge you off of how the season starts, but the tide always turns.”

As Goon notes, Morris has reached double-digit scoring in 10 of his last 13 games. The Kansas alum is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

There’s more from the Western Conference tonight:

  • Another player who’s produced for the Lakers is Andre Drummond, Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times writes. Drummond has averaged 16.5 points, 12.6 rebounds and 27.9 minutes in six games since joining the Lakers, performing at a high level as the team’s starting center.
  • Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones earned a $817K bonus after the team beat Milwaukee 128-115 on Saturday, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Jones had an incentive in his contract for 33 wins, but the total was prorated down to 29 due to the shortened season. Memphis currently holds the eighth-best record in the Western Conference at 29-26.
  • Warriors guard Juan Toscano-Anderson has been diagnosed with a concussion, Mark Medina of USA TODAY tweets. Toscano-Anderson suffered a brutal fall in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against Boston and left the contest early. As a result, he’s now in the league’s concussion protocol.

Southwest Notes: Jones, Poeltl, Harden, Hinton

After a knee injury prevented him from suiting up for the Grizzlies during the NBA’s summer restart, backup point guard Tyus Jones is finally returning to the court for Memphis during the preseason, according to Chris Hine of the Star Tribune.

“I’m a competitor, so I wanted to be out there on the court,” Jones said. “That motivated me this offseason to attack rehab, get back healthy, get in great shape and be ready to go when this season got started.” Without Jones, the Grizzlies finished as the No. 9 seed and lost a play-in game against the Trail Blazers to qualify for the 2020 playoffs in the West.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is hopeful that center Jakob Poeltl will commit to scoring more during the upcoming 2020/21 season, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. Popovich wants Poeltl to channel his experiences as a chief scoring option for the Utah Utes into more offensive production this year. “Maybe he’s gotten the impression I don’t want him to score,” Popovich joked. “Maybe that’s my fault.”
  • After perennial Rockets MVP contender James Harden apparently requested a trade out of Houston, the club will need to finesse its relationship with the guard if it hopes to retain him, per Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle. As teams prepare appetizing trade packages for the eight-time All-Star, the Rockets should certainly have plenty of options should they opt to move on.
  • Mavericks rookie shooting guard Nate Hinton had a solid preseason debut for this Dallas, writes Dwain Price of Mavs.com. The former University of Houston guard scored eight points, pulled down eight rebounds, and logged four assists. “It’s more spacing on the court (than on the collegiate level), so there’s more opportunities to get into the paint and just make plays and just be a ball player,” Hinton said. “I work hard, and just being around guys like Luka (Doncic) and the vets, and Tim Hardaway and all those guys in practice kind of makes it easier and makes it better for me to play and watch to see how the pace of the game is.”

Tyus Jones To Miss Some Seeding Games With Knee Soreness

Grizzlies backup point guard Tyus Jones is battling knee soreness and will miss at least a week of action before being reassessed, per an official team announcement (Twitter link).

The 32-33 Grizzlies, the West’s current No. 8 seed, will play their fourth seeding game a week from today, on August 5, against the 28-36 Pelicans, the current tenth seed. There are currently six teams in the West scheduled to compete for the conference’s eighth seed. The loss to the club’s depth in these crucial pre-playoff games could be an impediment.

Though Jones is a bench player averaging just 19.5 MPG, he is a consistent rotation piece who has logged time in every single game for the Grizzlies this season.  The 6’3″ guard out of Duke signed a three-year, $24MM offer sheet with Memphis as a restricted free agent last summer — his former team, the Timberwolves, declined to match.

Jones is enjoying his best scoring year as a pro during his inaugural Grizzlies season, averaging a career-best 7.4 PPG on a career-high 45.9% field goal shooting. He’s also making a career-best 37.9% of his three-point attempts on 6.6 tries per night to go along with 4.4 APG and 1.6 RPG.

Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian tweets that the loss of Jones will necessitate more time running the point for second-year guard De’Anthony Melton and that little-used Grizzlies backup Grayson Allen figures to receive rotation minutes during Jones’s absence.

Kris Dunn Meets Starter Criteria, Increases Value Of QO

Bulls guard Kris Dunn has been deemed to have met the starter criteria as a result of the shortened season, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). As a result, Dunn will receive a qualifying offer of $7,091,457 instead of $4,642,800 this offseason if Chicago wants to make him a restricted free agent.

We broke down Dunn’s situation in greater depth earlier this month, but the abridged version is this: A player eligible for restricted free agency receives a more lucrative qualifying offer if he starts 41 games or plays 2,000 minutes in the season before he reaches free agency, or if he averages 41 starts or 2,000 minutes in the two seasons before his free agency.

Dunn, who started 32 games this season and 76 in total over the last two years, fell slightly short of the 41-game-per-season requirement, but the criteria became prorated due to the Bulls only playing 65 of their 82 games this season. As a result, the former No. 5 overall pick was considered to have met the starter criteria, increasing the value of his qualifying offer.

As we’ve previously pointed out, the $2.5MM difference could have a real impact on Dunn’s free agency. It’s possible the Bulls will be less inclined to tender a qualifying offer now that it’s worth $7.1MM instead of $4.6MM. If they do move ahead with the QO, it’s possible Dunn will be more inclined to accept it.

If Chicago doesn’t tender a qualifying offer to Dunn, he’d become an unrestricted free agent.

As Marks and ESPN have previously reported, the NBA and NBPA also agreed to prorate the criteria for bonuses and incentives available to players in 2019/20, based on the shortened season. As a result, the following players have now achieved bonuses, according to Marks (Twitter link):

  • Rudy Gobert (Jazz): $250K for a rate of one rebound per 2.52 minutes in 62 games played.
    • Original criteria: A rate of one rebound per <3.2 minutes in 67 games.
  • Solomon Hill (Heat): $532K for 992 minutes played.
    • Original criteria: 1,000 minutes.
  • Jrue Holiday (Pelicans): $255K for 1,922 minutes played; $255K for 55 games played; $255K for 4.9 RPG in 55 games.
    • Original criteria: 2,075 minutes played; 66 games played; 3.15 RPG in 67 games.
  • Tyus Jones (Grizzlies): $858K for 32 wins.
    • Original criteria: 33 wins.
  • Kyle Lowry (Raptors): $200K for All-Star berth and 52 games played.
    • Original criteria: All-Star berth and 65 games played.
  • Patty Mills (Spurs): $250K for 149 three-pointers made.
    • Original criteria: 185 3PM.
  • T.J. Warren (Pacers): $250K for 184 three-pointers made and .375 3PT%.
    • Original criteria: 185 3PM; .370 3PT%.

NBA To Prorate Bonus, Incentive Criteria Using March 11 As End Of Season

A number of players with performance incentives and bonus clauses in their contracts didn’t get the opportunity to earn those bonuses in 2019/20 due to the suspension of the NBA season and the league’s subsequent hiatus.

However, according to Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the NBA and NBPA have reached an agreement on how to handle performance incentives in ’19/20. The criteria for those bonuses will be prorated, using March 11 as the end of the regular season, so stats accumulated during the eight “seeding games” this summer won’t count toward those incentives.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Proration]

For instance, Tyus Jones‘ contract with the Grizzlies includes an $858K bonus in the event that Memphis wins 33 games. Prior to the hiatus, the Grizzlies had 32 victories. Rather than needing the Grizzlies win one more game when play resumes, Jones will already be assured of his bonus, since a 32-33 record prorated over a full 82-game season would work out to 40 wins.

Similarly, Raptors guard Kyle Lowry has a series of bonuses related to his All-Star berth and his team’s postseason success that require him to play at least 65 games. When the season went on hiatus, Lowry had appeared in 52 of Toronto’s 64 games. Prorated over an 82-game season, that would work out to approximately 67 of 82 games, so Lowry will be considered to have met that 65-game threshold. He’ll receive his $200K All-Star bonus and could earn up to another $1.5MM, depending on how far the Raptors advance in the playoffs.

ESPN’s Bobby Marks broke down a number of these bonuses and incentives in an earlier Insider-only story. Another important one, noted by Shelburne and Wojnarowski, affects Sixers center Joel Embiid.

The final three years of Embiid’s maximum-salary contract, through 2022/23, had previously only been conditionally guaranteed, with the 76ers retaining the ability to gain salary relief if the veteran center suffered a career-threatening injury related to his back or feet. In order to fully guarantee those salaries, Embiid had to log 1,650 minutes this season.

When the season was suspended, Embiid was only at 1,329 minutes played. However, Philadelphia had only played 65 of 82 games. Prorated over a full season, Embiid’s average number of minutes per Sixers game (approximately 20.45) would work out to 1,677, surpassing the 1,650-minute threshold and ensuring his upcoming salaries are fully guaranteed.

Players whose bonuses and incentives rely on a percentage are unaffected by proration. For example, Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber would receive a $75K bonus for an 80% free-throw rate and another $150K for a 40% three-point average. His percentages are currently 86.3% and 37.4%, respectively, so he’ll receive the first bonus — but not the second. The same would have been true if he had finished at 80.1% and 39.9%.

And-Ones: Bonuses, Travel, Blazers, TBT

While it’s not at or near the top of the NBA’s list of priorities at this point, one issue the league will have to address is how players bonuses and incentives will be determined for the 2019/20 season. In an Insider-only story, Bobby Marks of ESPN identifies a number of interesting cases that remain up in the air due to the fact that the season has been suspended and may not be completed in full.

For instance, Tyus Jones‘ contract with the Grizzlies calls for him to receive a bonus worth $858K if the team wins 33 or more games. Memphis was at 32 wins when the NBA went on hiatus. Sixers center Joel Embiid, meanwhile, would have his salaries for the next three seasons become fully guaranteed if he logs 1,650 minutes this season — he was 321 minutes short of that mark when the league suspended play.

As Marks explains, the outcome of some of those incentives may have to be negotiated, but in general, the most logical approach would be for the NBA to prorate a player’s stats over a full 82-game season. For instance, if the Sixers finish the season having played just 65 out of 82 games, Embiid’s per-game minutes average for 65 games (20.4 MPG) would be prorated over 82 games. That would work out to 1,677 minutes, so he’d receive his guarantee. The same goes for Jones, since the Grizzlies were on pace to win well over 33 games.

That approach, which the NBA took during the 2011/12 lockout season, wouldn’t help players who have incentives tied to percentages — for instance, a player who needed to make 35.0% of his three-point attempts to earn a bonus and finished at 34.7% wouldn’t receive that extra money.

As we wait to see how the NBA resolves that issue and others, let’s round up a few more basketball odds and ends…

  • NBA players and staff who are outside the country are now permitted to re-enter the United States via a U.S. Department of Homeland Security issue, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. That will benefit not only international players like Luka Doncic and Sekou Doumbouya, who returned to their home countries during the hiatus, but also Raptors players and coaches who are currently in Toronto.
  • In a piece that focuses primarily on the Trail Blazers, Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN looks at what it’s been like for players to return to their teams’ practice facilities this month during an ongoing pandemic.
  • The Basketball Tournament (TBT), an annual summer event that features a number of former college standouts and overseas players, isn’t being postponed or canceled, according to organizers. As Myron Medcalf of ESPN details, participants will be tested repeatedly for COVID-19 and a team will be eliminated if one of its players tests positive. The plan is to move forward with the tournament in July.

Southwest Notes: Hartenstein, Ariza, T. Jones, Zion

Rockets center Isaiah Hartenstein may have moved up in the rotation with a strong performance against the Nets last night, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. With Clint Capela sidelined by a heel contusion, veteran Tyson Chandler started Saturday’s game, but Hartenstein saw more than 24 minutes of action. He wound up with nine points, 13 rebounds and a pair of dunks that electrified Houston’s bench.

“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “Especially just waiting for my turn and just being ready. I took the opportunity I got today and made the most of it. … I’m just doing my role. It’s not much out there, just setting screens, rebounding and just play hard. I think I’ve done a good job doing that.”

Hartenstein had been stuck on the end of the Rockets’ bench, seeing brief minutes in just two games this month prior to Saturday. Houston tends to employ a smaller lineup when Capela rests and often uses P.J. Tucker at center. Hartenstein will get another chance to change that philosophy tonight with Capela unavailable again.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets are well into their second season without Trevor Ariza and still haven’t found a reliable replacement for the versatile forward, Iko observes in a separate story. Ariza signed with the Suns last summer, then joined the Kings in July. “He’s more than just a three-and-D guy, although he’s really good at that,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said. “That’s probably what we need more than anything, but I think he can do a little bit of everything.”
  • After a slow start, Tyus Jones is looking like the player the Grizzlies expected when they gave him a three-year, $26MM contract this summer, notes David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Jones had eight points and seven assists off the bench yesterday in Denver, continuing a string of strong December performances.
  • Pelicans fans don’t know when they’ll see No. 1 pick Zion Williamson in action, but he put on a show last night in warmups, relays William Guillory of The Athletic. Williamson excited the crowd by throwing down a few signature dunks, although he constantly jumped off his left leg, taking it easy on the right one that is still recovering from meniscus surgery in October.

Ja Morant Sidelined With Back Spasms

Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant will be out of action on a “week-to-week basis” with back spasms, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

The star point guard first hurt his back in Monday’s game at Indiana when he collided with a camera operator after a layup attempt, writes David Cobb of The Commercial Appeal. He was helped off the court and appeared to be pointing to the middle of his upper back, Cobb adds, but later returned to the game.

Morant scored just 11 points against the Jazz last night, shooting 4 of 13 from the field, and appeared to be bothered by back pain. He is off to a strong start in his first NBA season, averaging 18.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.4 assists through 17 games.

Morant’s absence provides an opportunity for Tyus Jones, who came to Memphis this summer when the Timberwolves declined to match a three-year, $24MM offer sheet. He is averaging 19.3 minutes per night as a backup to Morant. Marko Guduric and De’Anthony Melton should also get an increase in playing time.

Northwest Notes: Ingles, Towns, Nuggets, Jones, Conley

Jazz forward Joe Ingles has sought advice from San Antonio’s Patty Miles and New Orleans’ J.J. Redick as he adjusts to a sixth-man role, Aaron Falk of the team’s website reports. “It’s been a few years since I’ve come off the bench,” Ingles said. “I’m just figuring out different ways, what they do, their routines. If there’s anything I can steal or use to help our team win games, I’m going to do it.” Ingles is off to a slow start in his new role, averaging 7.6 PPG and 3.4 APG with a .400 FG%.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns has no regrets about his scrap with Joel Embiid that resulted in a two-game suspension, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets“Listen I’m going to defend myself. I ain’t going to take nothing,” he said. “That’s a very … talented player. I just had to defend myself in that situation.”
  • The Nuggets are getting an average of 36.7 points from their bench, putting them in the middle of the pack in the league, but forward Will Barton says they’re way better than that, Kyle Fredrickson of the Denver Post relays. “We’ve got the best bench in the league when we’re clicking on all cylinders,” Barton said.
  • Tyus Jones was grateful he had the chance to play for his hometown team, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune relays. Jones grew up in Minnesota and played four seasons for the Timberwolves. He signed a three-year offer sheet with the Grizzlies this offseason and Minnesota declined to match it. “Last year it was like, ‘Man, I might not get this chance again to play for my hometown team.’ … It was just a cool experience, something I’m grateful for because not everyone gets to do something like that. It’s pretty unique and pretty cool,” the point guard said.
  • Mike Conley is going through a bigger adjustment than anticipated, as the Jazz guard told Sam Amick of The Athletic. “It’s kind of a little bit out of my routine because I’ve had to watch more film on us than I can on the other teams because I’m still learning. … I’ve got a big guy now (in Rudy Gobert) who can go get it. I can throw pocket passes, but it’s a little different. We’ve got lob threats and shooters around. You’re just trying to figure out where guys like to come off screens, and which hand, and then just remembering the terminology,” he said. Conley, who was traded by the Grizzlies over the summer, is making a combined $67MM this season and next season.

Southwest Notes: T. Jones, Rockets, Nowitzki, Ingram

After carving out a role as a valuable reserve during his four years in Minnesota, Tyus Jones tells David Cobb of The Commercial Appeal that he’s looking forward to a fresh start with the Grizzlies. The Timberwolves elected not to match Jones’ three-year, $24MM offer sheet, sending him to a new organization for the first time in his NBA career.

“The thing that impresses me is everyone knows the goal, and that’s we’re one team trying to improve and trying to win a lot of games this year,” Jones said. “Everyone has the best interest of the guy next to them and everyone is looking out for the guy next to them. That’s what it takes to be a great team.”

Part of the point guard’s duties will be to serve as a mentor to rookie Ja Morant, the second selection in this year’s draft. It may seem like an unusual responsibility for a 23-year-old, but Jones virtually qualifies as an elder statesman on the rebuilding Grizzlies.

“It’s weird when you look at it in the grand picture, in the grand scheme of things,” Jones said. “I’m 23, but I’m one of the older guys on the team. We have at lot of younger guys just in terms of the NBA years. But that’s what you get when you come into the league at 19.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets‘ addition of Thabo Sefolosha could come at the cost of Ben McLemore or Michael Frazier, tweets salary cap expert Albert Nahmad. Even though GM Daryl Morey has said he has the freedom to pay the luxury tax, Nahmad cautions that he won’t do it to keep an average player. Nahmad expects Houston to either start the season with the minimum of 14 players on its roster or possibly keep 15 with the intention to make a salary-cutting trade by the February deadline (Twitter link).
  • Mark Cuban plans to talk with recently retired star Dirk Nowitzki about joining the Mavericks‘ ownership group, relays Dalton Trigg of DallasBasketball. “I’ll have the convo with Dirk in the future,” Cuban said. “There is a lot of things involved to make it all work. But it would be awesome.”
  • The Pelicans should take a cautious approach toward an extension for Brandon Ingram, contends Bryan Toporek of Forbes. Although Ingram has been a full participant in offseason workouts, Toporek believes his health concerns make him too much of a risk unless he agrees to a discount somewhere in the neighborhood of the three-year, $52MM deal that Caris LeVert accepted with the Nets.