Ziaire Williams

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.

Western Notes: Lakers, Z. Williams, Grant, Moore

The Lakers have internally discussed the possibility of packaging Russell Westbrook and draft picks in a trade offer to the Bulls for DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on the latest episode of his Lowe Post podcast.

“The trade I saw (speculated by Bill Simmons of The Ringer) was Russ and both (2027 and 2029 first-round) picks – one with light protection on it, I think – for DeRozan and Vucevic,” Lowe said (hat tip to RealGM). “I can tell you 100% for sure the Lakers have had internal discussions about that very possibility, (about) if it would ever come up.”

Lowe quickly added a caveat, clarifying that the Lakers wouldn’t necessarily pull the trigger on that deal even if the Bulls were interested in it. I’ll add my own caveat: “internal” trade talks should be taken with a grain of salt, since all 30 teams will internally discuss many, many trade scenarios that will never come to fruition or even be broached to potential trade partners.

Still, as Lowe went on to explain, it makes sense for the Lakers to keep an eye on would-be playoff contenders who might struggle this season and decide to pivot to becoming sellers. The Bulls are off to a disappointing 9-13 start.

“You look around the league, like any responsible team would, and say, ‘OK, we know the Pacers option is there, the Utah option was there, the Spurs option doesn’t excite us much,'” Lowe said of the Lakers’ approach to Westbrook’s trade market. “… Both picks for the Bulls guys is certainly something their brain trust has thought about. Otherwise they’d be irresponsible.”

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Grizzlies forward Ziaire Williams, who has yet to play this season due to a right knee injury, is getting close to returning, according to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal (Twitter links). Williams has been doing 5-on-5 work as he enters the final stage of his rehab process.
  • Responding to Michael Scotto’s interview with Jerami Grant, which addressed Grant’s upcoming free agency, Sean Highkin of the Rose Garden Report (Twitter link) says he doesn’t expect the Trail Blazers forward to even reach free agency next summer. Highkin believes the Blazers and Grant will reach an extension after he becomes eligible for a longer-term deal in January. For what it’s worth, Portland would be limited during the season to offering a four-year, $112.65MM extension, so if Grant – who is having a career year so far – wants to try to get more than that, he’d have to wait for his current contract to expire and become a free agent.
  • In their first game without Karl-Anthony Towns available on Wednesday, the Timberwolves turned to rookie Wendell Moore to fill out their starting lineup. As Chris Hine of The Star Tribune writes, Moore – who had played just 11 total minutes in four NBA appearances prior to Wednesday – was as surprised as anyone by the decision. “I came here and it was just another day,” this year’s No. 26 overall pick said after playing 20 minutes in a win over Memphis. “Came to get my work in. I was going to cheer my teammates on and just get this win. Once I got the news, I knew I had to shift my mind-set into gear and be ready to go.”

Ziaire Williams Out 4-To-6 Weeks With Patellar Tendinitis

Grizzlies forward Ziaire Williams will miss another four-to-six weeks due to soreness in his right knee caused by patellar tendinitis, the team announced (via Twitter).

Williams began experiencing pain in his knee in early October, forcing him to miss the final two games of the preseason and the first four games of the regular season. Memphis had been treating him as a day-to-day situation.

Williams is coming off a strong rookie season that saw him start 31 of the 62 games he played while averaging 8.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in 21.7 minutes per night. The 21-year-old was the 10th pick in the 2021 draft.

The Grizzlies had Williams focus on improving his play-making skills during Summer League, notes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Until Williams returns, rookies Jake LaRavia and David Roddy will continue to receive plenty of wing minutes, Cole adds.

Injury Notes: Garland, Embiid, Curry, J. Murray, More

Cavaliers point guard Darius Garland, a first-time All-Star last season, has been ruled out of Saturday’s game at Chicago due to his eye injury, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter links). Garland didn’t travel with the team and the “current feeling” is that Garland is “improbable” to play in Cleveland’s home opener on Sunday against Washington, Fedor adds.

Garland suffered a lacerated eyelid when he was inadvertently poked in the eye by Gary Trent Jr. in the second quarter of the Cavs’ 108-105 loss to the Raptors on Wednesday. Fedor reported on Thursday that Garland does not have structural damage and won’t require surgery.

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

  • Sixers head coach Doc Rivers says that Joel Embiid‘s conditioning was impacted by plantar fascitiis during the offseason, as Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia relays. “He had a little plantar fasciitis before the season started — before training camp — and that took him off his conditioning program,” Rivers said. “And so he’s back on that. But listen, he’s playing with the right intentions. He just didn’t play well, and that’s OK, too. That’s going to happen. We’ve still got to win those games.” The Sixers dropped their first two games of the season, with Embiid looking pretty sluggish. Rivers reiterated that Embiid is no longer dealing with the injury, but needs to regain his rhythm and conditioning.
  • Guard Seth Curry (offseason ankle surgery) is likely to travel with the Nets for their two-game road trip next week, but “probably” needs more practice time before he returns to action, head coach Steve Nash said on Friday (Twitter link via Brian Lewis of The New York Post).
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who played his first regular season game on Wednesday since suffering a torn ACL in April 2021, is out for Friday’s game against the Warriors, head coach Michael Malone told reporters (Twitter links via Kendra Andrews of ESPN). According to Andrews, Malone said the Nuggets are resting Murray because Friday is the first of a back-to-back. However, that might not be the case for the entire season, Malone added.
  • No. 4 overall pick Keegan Murray will make his debut on Saturday against the Clippers after being a full participant in Friday’s practice, a source tells ESPN’s Marc J. Spears. Murray was fully cleared by the Kings after exiting the health and safety protocols, Spears writes.
  • Dillon Brooks (left thigh soreness) and Ziaire Williams (right knee soreness) missed their second consecutive games for the Grizzlies on Friday, the team announced (via Twitter). Memphis won its opener against New York and defeated Houston in game two.

Grizzlies Waive Killian Tillie, Pick Up Options On Three Players

The Grizzlies have officially completed a series of roster moves, setting their roster for the 2022/23 regular season and picking up multiple rookie scale options for ’23/24.

Most notably, Memphis has waived big man Killian Tillie, whose expiring $1,901,625 salary is fully guaranteed. Tillie has spent the last two seasons with the Grizzlies, averaging 3.3 PPG and 1.7 RPG in 36 games (12.8 MPG) in 2021/22.

The Grizzlies had 16 players with fully or partially guaranteed contracts, so one of them had to be cut to get to the 15-man regular season limit. Tillie, who will still receive his full salary, was the odd man out, as the club opted to keep Danny Green while he recovers from an ACL tear.

Memphis also waived Dakota Mathias, who was signed to an Exhibit 10 contract earlier in the week for G League purposes. Mathias is expected to report to the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ NBAGL affiliate.

The Grizzlies also announced today that they’ve exercised their 2023/24 team options on Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, and Santi Aldama. All three players will now have guaranteed salaries for ’23/24, with Bane earning $3,845,083, Williams earning $4,810,200, and Aldama making $2,194,200.

The moves had been expected, since Bane, Williams, and Aldama all appear set to play regular rotation roles for Memphis this coming season.

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.

Western Notes: Z. Williams, Suns, Kings, Blazers

Second-year wing Ziaire Williams might be the key for the Grizzlies to become a better mid-range shooting team, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Memphis led the league in points in the paint last season, but seldomly made mid-range jumpers, ranking just 26th in the league during the regular season and last in the playoffs, per Cole. The 6’8″ Williams, meanwhile, is a talented pull-up shooter, with the ability to create his shot in multiple ways, Cole notes.

I was blessed to have that mid-range, man,” Williams said during Summer League. “We’ve been working on that shot since I was 5 or 6 years old. It’s definitely there for sure, especially with my height and my length. I get that shot off a lot.”

On a very limited volume, Williams shot 48% on mid-rangers as a rookie in 2021/22, which ranked in the 87th percentile of all players, according to DunksAndThrees.com.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic considers several possible free agent targets for the Suns‘ final roster spot, including Carmelo Anthony, Jarrett Culver, Facundo Campazzo, and Ben McLemore, among others.
  • Did the offseason moves the Kings made make them a playoff team? Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee explores that topic, noting that shooting was a priority and the Kings addressed that need by adding Malik Monk (free agent), Kevin Huerter (trade with Atlanta) and Keegan Murray (No. 4 overall pick). Ultimately, Anderson thinks Sacramento should definitely improve its win total from last season after going 30-52, but landing one of the final spots in the play-in tournament might be a more realistic outcome than breaking the long playoff drought.
  • A source tells Marc J. Spears of Andscape (Twitter link) that the Trail Blazers have parted ways with assistant coach Edniesha Curry. Portland confirmed the news (Twitter link via Spears), though the reasoning behind the move was vague. Curry, a former WNBA player, was a first-year assistant in ’21/22.

Taylor Jenkins: “We Are The Furthest Thing From Dirty”

Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins is defending his team against accusations of “dirty” play, writes Drew Hill of The Daily Memphian.

The label started after Dillon Brooks was ejected from Tuesday’s game following a flagrant two foul that knocked Warriors guard Gary Payton II out of the series. Brooks has been suspended for Saturday’s Game 3, and Golden State coach Steve Kerr said he “broke the code” regarding safety among NBA players.

“I also wanted to address a narrative out there that was said between Game 1 and Game 2,” Jenkins said. “It was said that we have to play more physical, and the word dirty has been thrown out there. I look at my locker room and I look at our culture and what we exude — we are the furthest thing from dirty. We are competitive. I want that to be squashed pretty quick here. I know words only mean so much right here. We feel for what Payton is going through and that’s not going to change the course of action, but our guys are going to rally and focus on Game 3.”

Jenkins added that the league has been communicating with Grizzlies vice president of basketball operations Zach Kleiman since Tuesday night about the possibility that Brooks could be suspended. That gave Jenkins additional time to work on a game plan without Brooks available.

Brooks is Memphis’ best perimeter defender and is extremely valuable in countering the Warriors’ small-ball lineup. He has also become an important part of the offense, averaging a career-best 18.4 points per game this season.

“It’s disappointing,” Jenkins said of the suspension. “It’s an unfortunate circumstance and we will honor the league’s decision. It’s a tough play. We wish Gary Payton a speedy and healthy recovery. You don’t want to see anybody get hurt.”

Brooks’ absence on Saturday will likely mean a larger role for rookie Ziaire Williams, who served as the primary defender on Stephen Curry after Brooks was tossed from Game 2, Hill adds. De’Anthony Melton, who had three blocks and two steals on Tuesday, should see more time as well.

“It’s going to be even more of a grind,” Melton said. “It’s going to take mental focus and physical focus even more. We’ve played without guys before, and great teams without guys. We just have to go in and continue to play hard and play our game and have fun.”