The Memphis Grizzlies head to Orlando on Wednesday (July 8) for the restart of the pandemic-shortened NBA season and a full-speed run at the playoffs.
All NBA players have the option to opt out of the restart for various reasons. None of the Grizzlies players has indicated they would not be a part of the restart.
The plan to resume the season with playoff-contention teams playing all games in Orlando gives players the option of traveling there with their teams and all of the players on the Grizzlies roster have indicated they plan to do so.
Memphis will scrimmage against three other NBA teams: the Philadelphia 76’ers on July 24 (2:30 p.m.), the Houston Rockets on July 26 (7 p.m.) and the Miami Heat on July 28 (1 p.m.)
The multi-month suspension of the season has given the ailing members of the Grizzlies to get more healthy. Team chemistry, which has been a strength for the team, is being embraced as a pivotal priority for the playoffs push. And when Memphis hits the practice courts, the team’s on-court mix will include the veteran presence of Anthony Tolliver, who also serves on the executive committee of the NBA Players Association.
“The culture here is great,” said Tolliver during a recent media session. “The guys just are great human beings…quality people. Sometimes it doesn’t take much negativity to ruin an entire locker room. I’ve seen one guy be a cancer and destroy an entire locker room.”
The Grizzlies signed Tolliver to a 10-day contract in March because of injuries to Brandon Clarke and Jaren Jackson Jr. As the contract was set to expire the NBA froze all transactions. The transactions restriction was lifted recently and the Grizzlies moved swiftly to sign Tolliver for the rest of the season.
Tolliver only played five games with the team before the season was halted, providing consistent scoring from outside.
As a member of NBAPA Executive Committee, Tolliver took part in meetings designed to get input on how to restructure the start of the season. During his media session, he talked of the need for a pool of free agent players to be available as the season resumes in the Orlando bubble.
The season is set to resume as coronavirus cases continue to rise, spiking significantly in several cities and states.
“It is hard not to notice some of the positive tests, but for the most part guys are committed to playing the game,” Tolliver said, “as long as we are in a position of control. Controlling the spread of the virus, that is the biggest thing.”
Memphis is the third team that Tolliver has played on this season. The other teams, Portland and Sacramento, are trailing the Grizzlies in the hunt for the last playoff spot.
In addition to Tolliver, an X-factor for the Grizzlies could be Justice Winslow, hasn’t played a minute with the team this season after being traded to Memphis from Miami in a trade-deadline deal. Head coach Taylor Jenkins wants to use him in various positions during the makeshift training-camp games