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Monday, June 24, 2024

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Catching up with the Grizzlies

Terry Davis

The Memphis Grizzlies have slowly developed their roster for the upcoming season.

Reserve point guard Tyus Jones, who has filled in admirably during Ja Morant’s absences for injuries and suspension, has been traded along with the Grizzlies’ first-round pick in this year’s NBA draft.

In return, Memphis gets Marcus Smart, the 29-year-old former Oklahoma State University guard, who has played his nine-year NBA career for the Boston Celtics.

The move by the Grizzlies will fill two holes in the team’s roster. Smart can play point guard while Morant serves his league-imposed, 25-game suspension. He also accounts for the departure of Dillion Brooks on the defensive end.  Smart was the Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY)for 2021-22.

The Grizzlies now have the last two defensive players of the year on the roster. Strong Forward Jaren Jackson Jr., a first-time All-Star, is the reigning DPOY. With the addition of Smart, the defense should be as good or better.  

Summer hoops

The Grizzlies will field teams in the Salt Lake Summer League and the Las Vegas Summer League. David Roddy, Jake Lavaria and Kenny Lofton Jr. – familiar faces from last season – will be key members of this summer’s teams.

GG Jackson II played one year at the University of South Carolina (Photo: Katy Dugan/Gamecock Central)

Also on the roster will be GG Jackson II. Memphis drafted Jackson with the 45th pick in the NBA Draft’s second round.  He is expected to be on a two-way contract this fall.

Jackson, 19, was the youngest person drafted in the most recent draft. He played one year for the University of South Carolina, where he averaged 15.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, teams are allowed to sign three players to two-way contracts. That’s up from two from last year season.

The Grizzlies will play in Salt Lake City from July 3-6.  They open against the Philadelphia 76ers on July 3 at 6 p.m. (CDT). 

Memphis will play the Chicago Bulls on July 8 at 6 p.m. (CDT) in the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas. The team will play in Las Vegas from July 8-14.  They will play longer if they make it to the championship round.

Odds and ends

The Grizzlies have exercised the team option for forward Xavier Tillman Sr. for this season.

Memphis now has one open roster spot to fill. A big question is the status of Ziaire Williams, the second-year player from Stanford.

NBA free agency starts on June 30. It is possible the Grizzlies will do a sign and trade with Brooks and or Williams to fill the open roster spot. The team currently only has the mid-level exception available, around $12 million, to offer a free agent.

The open roster spot may be used to address Memphis’ need to improve the team’s three-point percentage.

With Luke Kennard playing a full season (after arriving mid-season via a trade) and the addition of Smart, the percentage may rise naturally. The team is looking for Lavaria to be a key player from behind the arch this season.


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