Ziaire Williams

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.” 

Injury Notes: Heat, Brown, Hill, Z. Williams, Reid

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was noncommittal on Friday when asked for a status update on Jimmy Butler (sore right knee) and Kyle Lowry (left hamstring), according to Anthony Chiang and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Butler missed Game 5 of Miami’s first-round series against Atlanta, while Lowry missed Games 4 and 5 after leaving Game 3 early.

I don’t want to jump the gun on anything. I just like the progress that everybody’s made. We’ll see if they can make more progress tomorrow. It will just be a daily update,” Spoelstra said.

Butler’s injury is considered relatively minor, with no MRI or other imaging planned. Muscle strains are notoriously tricky to deal with, so Lowry might be out longer, but his hamstring strain is also not considered to be serious, per Chiang and Jackson.

I’m expecting them to get healthy day by day, honestly,” Bam Adebayo said when asked if he expects Butler and Lowry to be available for the start of the second round. “If they can go, they can go. If they’re not, we got to go out there regardless. You can’t push back Game 1.”

Here are some more postseason injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Head coach Ime Udoka told reporters, including Jay King of The Athletic (Twitter links), that Celtics star Jaylen Brown is dealing with hamstring tightness and had it evaluated recently. Despite the injury, Brown is expected to play in Game 1 against Milwaukee on Sunday.
  • George Hill (abdominal strain) was unable to practice on Friday, per Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer. He’s out for Game 1 but the team is hopeful he might return during the second-round series against Boston, tweets Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The veteran guard missed the entire first-round series against Chicago with the injury and hasn’t played since April 8.
  • Grizzlies rookie wing Ziaire Williams (right knee soreness) was unavailable for Friday’s Game 6 contest against the Timberwolves, the team announced (via Twitter). He’d previously been listed as doubtful. Wolves big man Naz Reid also missed Game 6 due to personal reasons (Twitter link via Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic).

Grizzlies Center Steven Adams Enters Protocols

Steven Adams will miss Game 6 of the Grizzlies‘ first-round series against the Timberwolves after entering the league’s health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets.

Adams started 75 games for the team with the Western Conference’s second-best record during the regular season. Due to matchups, Adams has dropped out of the rotation during the opening playoff round. After playing 24 minutes in Game 1, Adams has only seen seven minutes of action.

Forward Ziaire Williams is listed as doubtful with right knee soreness. Williams has appeared in all five games during the series, averaging 5.6 PPG in 11 MPG.

Injury Notes: VanVleet, Mitchell, Ingram, Z. Williams

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has officially been listed as doubtful for Game 6 of the team’s first-round series vs. Philadelphia, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. The Raptors will be looking to even up the series at 3-3 with a win in Toronto on Thursday.

VanVleet suffered a left hip flexor strain in Game 4 on Saturday and his comments prior to Game 5 indicated there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to return in the first round.

Although VanVleet was an All-Star this season and will be missed if he’s officially ruled out, the Raptors have actually looked better against the Sixers with their starting point guard on the sidelines. Toronto has a +11.2 net rating in 105 minutes without VanVleet, compared to a -16.0 net rating in the 140 minutes he has spent on the court.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • After getting good news when an MRI on his hamstring came back clean on Tuesday, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said today that he’ll be “good to go” for Game 6 on Thursday, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter links). Mitchell told reporters that he was concerned when he thought his soreness was hamstring-related, but isn’t worried now that he has just been diagnosed with quad bruising.
  • Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram told reporters after Tuesday’s game that he banged up the ring and pinkie fingers on his right hand during the fourth quarter of the team’s Game 5 loss, but he doesn’t expect the injury to be an issue going forward. “(The fingers) got jammed. They’re pretty sore right now,” Ingram said, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “But nothing that treatment can’t fix and get better by next game.”
  • Grizzlies rookie Ziaire Williams exited Tuesday’s win over Minnesota early due to right knee soreness, as Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. Williams’ status for Game 6 on Friday is unknown.

COVID-19 Updates: Wizards, Billups, Thunder, Hornets, Raptors, More

The Wizards now have five players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to head coach Wes Unseld Jr., who told reporters today that Anthony Gill and Thomas Bryant are the latest players to enter the protocols (Twitter link via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington).

Bryant is coming off an ACL tear and has yet to play this season, so being in the protocols won’t affect his availability. However, Gill will no longer be an option in the short term for the Wizards after appearing in eight of the team’s last 11 games.

Here are more COVID-19 updates from around the NBA:

  • Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups has entered the COVID-19 protocols, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links), who reports that assistant Scott Brooks is expected to become Portland’s acting head coach as long as Billups is unavailable.
  • Aleksej Pokusevski and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl of the Thunder have entered the health and safety protocols, according to the team (Twitter link via Wojnarowski). Aaron Wiggins also briefly entered the protocols, but has since been listed as available, tweets Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Oklahoma City now has four players in the protocols.
  • The Hornets announced some good news and some bad news on Monday. While Cody Martin has exited the protocols and has been cleared to play on Monday vs. Houston, rookie Scottie Lewis is now in the protocols, according to the team (Twitter link).
  • Three Raptors players – Pascal Siakam, Khem Birch, and Gary Trent Jr. – have exited the protocols and are listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game vs. Philadelphia as they go through a reconditioning period, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. Toronto still has seven players in the protocols, but may finally be trending in the right direction.
  • Celtics forward Grant Williams boarded a flight to Minnesota earlier today and expects to play tonight vs. the Wolves, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). Williams has been in the health and safety protocols since December 17.
  • Although Ziaire Williams remains on the shelf due to an ankle sprain, he’s no longer listed in the protocols in the Grizzlieslatest injury report, suggesting he has been cleared.

COVID Updates: Josh Green, Ziaire Williams, Okogie, Morant, Carlisle

Mavericks second-year wing Josh Green has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). Green, the 18th overall pick of the 2020 draft, hasn’t seen much action so far this season, appearing in 17 games for a total of 125 minutes (7.4 MPG). He’s averaging 2.4 PPG and 1.5 RPG.

Rookie Ziaire Williams has entered the protocols for the Grizzlies, writes Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Williams, the 10th overall pick of the 2021 draft, has also been dealing with an ankle sprain that has sidelined him for the past six games. Through 19 games (17.8 MPG), the 20-year-old is averaging 4.7 PPG and 1.5 RPG.

Timberwolves wing Josh Okogie has entered the protocols as well, the team announced (via Twitter). In 20 contests this season (13.9 MPG), Okogie is averaging 2.6 PPG and 2.2 RPG.

If the three players tested positive, they will need to isolate for at least 10 days or until they return two consecutive negative PCR tests a minimum of 24 hours apart.

Here are a couple more COVID-19 related updates:

  • Grizzlies star Ja Morant has exited the health and safety protocols, Barnes writes in a separate piece. Memphis is taking a “wait and see” approach with its star point guard, as he’s still dealing with a knee sprain suffered in late November. However, Morant is back with the team and will likely be on the bench tonight against Portland, Barnes tweets. The Grizzlies have surprisingly gone 10-1 without Morant and currently hold the fourth seed in the West with a 19-11 record.
  • Head coach Rick Carlisle is back with the Pacers after exiting the health and safety protocols, according to James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star (via Twitter). Carlisle led Indiana’s practice Sunday and is expected to coach the team Tuesday at Miami, Boyd relays.

Southwest Notes: Kidd, McDermott, House, Williams

New Mavericks coach Jason Kidd used his entire active roster during the first three quarters of Tuesday’s game, writes Tim Cato of the Athletic. All 15 players saw time on the court, which is a rarity in a league where rotations typically involve nine or 10 players unless the game has already been decided.

Kidd said the idea of playing everybody was developed by the team’s leadership council, which is made up of Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. They offered the suggestion Tuesday during their first official meeting with their coach in that capacity.

“It’s a cool thing, because we always talk about (players who are) 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 (on the roster) as part of the team and they tend to not get to play,” Kidd said. “The matrix was in a twist, but we figured it out.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • An MRI on Doug McDermott‘s right knee was negative, but the Spurs expect him to miss their upcoming three-game road trip, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. The knee swelled up after he hurt it in Tuesday’s game. He’s projected to return to the court November 3.
  • Rockets forward Danuel House suffered a sprained right foot Tuesday night, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. House landed awkwardly after saving a loose ball from going out of bounds and was visibly limping after the play. X-rays were negative, but he wore a walking boot when he returned to the bench later in the game.
  • LeBron James said it was a “weird dynamic” to play against Grizzlies rookie Ziaire Williams, who was his son’s high school teammate two years ago, per Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. It was a big deal for Williams as well to be on the same court with “Uncle LeBron,” who was in the crowd for a lot of those high school games. “It was fun to see a different side of him,” Williams said. “He’s always fun and joking around with us at Sierra Canyon watching games so it was cool to see him in his element when things are serious.”

Grizzlies Sign Ziaire Williams, Santi Aldama To Rookie Deals

The Grizzlies‘ two first-round picks, forward Ziaire Williams and forward/center Santi Aldama, have officially signed their rookie contracts, the team announced today in a press release.

Williams, who spent a single season at Stanford before declaring for the draft, was the 10th overall pick on July 29. Memphis acquired the selection as part of the Jonas Valanciunas/Eric Bledsoe/Steven Adams deal with New Orleans, moving up from No. 17 in order to secure Williams.

Aldama, meanwhile, was the 30th overall pick in this year’s draft. The Grizzlies packaged the No. 40 selection with two future second-rounders in a deal with Utah in order to move up to the end of the first round to draft the 6’11” Spaniard, who played his college ball at Loyola (Maryland).

Assuming they both received the maximum allowable 120% of the rookie scale (which nearly all first-round picks do), Williams will earn $4.37MM in his first NBA season, while Aldama will make $1.99MM.

The Grizzlies now have 15 players on guaranteed contracts, meaning most of their offseason business is probably done. The team does still have one two-way slot open, with a two-way qualifying offer out to Killian Tillie.

Pelicans Officially Acquire Valanciunas, Graham In Three-Team Trade

The Pelicans have officially announced a pair of previouslyreported trades, having combined their acquisitions of center Jonas Valanciunas and point guard Devonte’ Graham into a single transaction involving both the Grizzlies and Hornets. Memphis and Charlotte have put out press releases as well.

The details of the three-team deal are as follows:

  • To Pelicans:
    • Valanciunas (from Grizzlies)
    • Graham (sign-and-trade; from Hornets)
    • The draft rights to Trey Murphy (No. 17 pick; from Grizzlies)
    • The draft rights to Brandon Boston (No. 51 pick; from Grizzlies)
      • Note: Boston will be rerouted to the Clippers in a subsequent trade.
  • To Grizzlies:
    • Eric Bledsoe (from Pelicans)
    • Steven Adams (from Pelicans)
    • The draft rights to Ziaire Williams (No. 10 pick; from Pelicans)
    • The draft rights to Jared Butler (No. 40 pick; from Pelicans)
      • Note: Butler will be rerouted to the Jazz in a subsequent trade.
    • The Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick (top-10 protected; from Pelicans)
  • To Hornets:
    • Wesley Iwundu (from Pelicans)
    • The Pelicans’ 2022 first-round pick (top-14 protected; from Pelicans)
      • Note: If the Pelicans’ 2022 first-rounder falls in the top 14, the Hornets will instead receive New Orleans’ 2022 and 2024 second-round picks, per Rod Boone of SI.com.
    • Cash (from Pelicans)
    • The draft rights to Tyler Harvey (from Grizzlies)

The details of the three-team trade essentially line up with what was previously reported, with two new pieces added — Iwundu going from New Orleans to Charlotte and Harvey’s draft rights going from Memphis to Charlotte. Harvey was presumably only included to ensure that the Grizzlies and Hornets were “touching,” since otherwise Memphis would only have been exchanging assets with the Pelicans.

Looping their sign-and-trade acquisition of Graham into the trade suggests the Pelicans will operate over the cap, using Bledsoe’s and Adams’ outgoing salaries in order to match both Valanciunas and Graham instead of signing Graham into cap space.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), it also allows New Orleans to generate a $17MM+ trade exception in the deal. Only Bledsoe’s and Iwundu’s outgoing salaries are needed for matching purposes to take on Valanciunas and Graham, meaning the Pelicans’ new TPE is worth Adams’ salary ($17,073,171).

Graham reportedly signed a four-year, $47MM contract with the Pelicans as part of the trade. He and Tomas Satoransky appear set to play the majority of the minutes at point guard in New Orleans, barring further roster changes. The team is sending Lonzo Ball to Chicago in a separate sign-and-trade deal.

Graham made just 37.7% of his field goal attempts in 2020/21, but his three-point mark was a very respectable 37.5%. In addition to his ability to make threes, Graham is an above-average play-maker (6.5 APG over the last two seasons) and a respectable defender.

Swapping out Adams for Valanciunas should allow the Pelicans to improve their frontcourt spacing. Valanciunas isn’t exactly a long-distance marksman, but has a solid mid-range game and will shoot the occasional three-pointer, which should create more room for Zion Williamson to operate. The former No. 5 overall pick averaged an impressive 17.1 PPG and 12.5 RPG with a .592/.368/.773 shooting line in 62 games (28.3 MPG) this past season.

From the Grizzlies’ perspective, the deal was a way to improve their draft assets in both 2021 and 2022 as a result of their willingness to take on Adams’ and Bledsoe’s pricey contracts. The team moved up from No. 17 to No. 10 to snag Williams, and later flipped the No. 40 pick (Butler) to Utah in a separate trade to move up to No. 30 for Santi Aldama.

[RELATED: 2021 NBA Offseason Trades]

The Hornets, meanwhile, decided to move on from Graham and got a protected first-round pick from New Orleans in exchange for waiving their right to match an offer sheet for the restricted free agent. Iwundu’s guaranteed $1.82MM salary for 2021/22 will eat up a small amount of Charlotte’s cap room, but the team will still have enough flexibility to complete its signing of Kelly Oubre to a two-year deal in the range of $12-13MM per year.

Southwest Notes: Silas, Stone, Williams, Moore, Hayes

Rockets coach Stephen Silas didn’t attend Friday’s introductory news conference for the team’s draft picks because he’s been placed under the NBA’s health and safety protocols, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. Silas has “very minor” coronavirus symptoms and is fully vaccinated. He was involved in the team’s draft preparations, including the workout of Jalen Green, whom the Rockets chose with the No. 2 pick.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets kept their three first-round picks on Thursday and also acquired a fourth pick to select big man Alperen Sengun in the first round. The team’s GM, Rafael Stone, said the rookies now must show they were worthy of the front office’s faith in them, Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle writes. “It’s going to be on Jalen and on us to prove it out, but not just him,” Stone said. “It’s all these guys and the guys on our current roster, we’re all in it together. We got to grow. We’ve got to help each other and we’ve got to get better.”
  • Ziaire Williams was hoping the Grizzlies would use the No. 10 pick on him, Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. “I kept it a secret because I didn’t want to mess it up,” Williams said. “But truthfully, my family will tell you, (VP of basketball affairs) Tayshaun Prince, (GM) Zach (Kleiman), everyone, this is where I really wanted to be.”
  • Ben Moore will play on the Grizzlies’ summer league team, Nicola Lupo of Sportando tweets. Moore, who spent last season in Australia with South East Melbourne, played two games with the Pacers in 2017/18.
  • Jaxson Hayes was shocked twice with a stun gun and may have had force applied to his neck during an altercation with Los Angeles police, Ramon Antonio Vargas of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. An investigation into whether officers’ use of force was appropriate is underway while Hayes faces a count of resisting arrest, Vargas adds. The Pelicans center was arrested early Wednesday following a domestic dispute call. He was charged with a felony.