Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson says injury rehab is going well

The Grizzlies went 34-39 this season, and an injury to forward Jaren Jackson Jr. was a factor in the squad just falling short in their playoff push. But in good news as per the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Jackson has confirmed that he will be ready for next season:

Jackson also said his rehab is going well following a torn meniscus in his left knee that ended his season. He and Justise Winslow, who suffered a hip injury before the season restarted, have been working out together and both are ready for next season – whenever it starts.

The NBA hasn’t announced when the 2020-21 season will begin, but Jackson said it hasn’t changed his approach. The Grizzlies waited three months to resume this past season after it was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and waiting again won’t be a problem.

“It’s like when you put a kid in timeout and when he finally gets out of timeout, he’s just active in breaking more things than before,” Jackson said.

The vast majority of key Grizzlies players are signed at least through next season, so they don’t need to be particularly busy in free agency this offseason. Jackson as a rookie in 2018-19 put up 13.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, shooting 50.6% FG. Last season, his rebounding was almost the same, while his scoring raised to 17.4 PPG, on 46.9% shooting. But beyond stats, he’s the most essential Grizzlies player not named Ja Morant. And it’s good to hear he’s ready to roll when next season does tip off.

Ja Morant jersey sales on the rise

Grizzlies guard Ja Morant got attention all season thanks to play that earned him the Rookie of the Year award, and his jersey sales also serve to show that his popularity is on the rise. Here’s the Memphis Commercial Appeal:

The league, along with the National Basketball Player’s Association, announced Wednesday that Morant was the only rookie listed among the NBA’s top 15 most popular jerseys since the league restarted in July.

He was 15th with LeBron James, Luka Doncic, Anthony Davis, Jayson Tatum and Giannis Antetokounmpo in the top five. The results were based on NBAStore.com sales from July 30-Sept. 28.

Morant being the lone rookie on there was a mild surprise. Fellow rookie Zion Williamson led the NBA in memorabilia sold since his debut on Jan. 22 across the Fanatics network, which includes NBAStore.com.

Next up for the Gizzlies is the draft. With what would have been their No. 14 pick in the hands of the Celtics due to a trade, focus will be on free agency. Every key Grizzlies player is signed at least through next season, but the team could use help in the scoring department.

Memphis Grizzlies hire Sonia Raman as an assistant coach

The Memphis Grizzlies have hired Sonia Raman as assistant coach. Raman (SOHN-ya RAH-mun) comes to Memphis following 12 seasons (2008-20) as the head women’s basketball coach at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Engineers enjoyed unprecedented success under Raman, winning the program’s first two New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championships (2018, 2019) and reaching the championship game in 2020.

Raman’s tenure also produced two NCAA Tournament berths for the program, while the Engineers compiled a 91-45 record (.669) in her final five seasons. Following her first season in 2008-09, MIT’s record improved in each of the next five seasons. Eighteen of Raman’s student-athletes earned NEWMAC All-Conference accolades, including four Rookie of the Year awards. She also had four seniors selected to participate in the New England Women’s Basketball Association Senior Classic.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the Memphis Grizzlies coaching staff. I can’t wait to get to Memphis and get started with Taylor, his staff and the team’s emerging young core,” Raman said. “I must also give a truly special thank you to MIT and the women I’ve had the honor of coaching for the past 12 years. I wish the program continued success.”

In September 2017, Raman was selected to serve a two-year term on the Coaches Council for the Alliance of Women Coaches. The Alliance of Women Coaches is dedicated to leading the field of women coaches, at all levels, by providing support, resources, events and programs which address the needs and interests of its members.

“We are beyond excited to welcome Sonia to the Memphis Grizzlies,” said Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins. “She has a high basketball IQ and a tremendous ability to teach the game, as well as a strong passion for the game. She is going to be a great addition to our current coaching staff.”

Prior to her arrival in Cambridge, Raman was the top assistant coach at Wellesley College. During her six-year tenure, she scouted opponents, assisted with practice and game planning, managed individual player skill and leadership development, and served as the Blue’s primary recruiter.

Raman began her intercollegiate coaching career with a two-year stint as an assistant coach at her alma mater, Tufts University. A four-year player and a captain for the Jumbos, she graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations. Raman went on to receive a Juris Doctor from Boston College Law School in 2001.

No surprise, Grizzlies guard Ja Morant named NBA Rookie of Year

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant has been named the 2019-20 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year.

Morant earned 99 first-place votes (498 points) from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. The Miami Heat’s Kendrick Nunn finished second with 204 points, and the New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson was third with 140 points. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Morant led all qualified rookies in scoring average (17.8 points), assists (7.3, 10th in the NBA) and double-doubles (15) and recorded the only two triple-doubles by a rookie this season. He joined Oscar Robertson (1960-61), Magic Johnson (1979-80), Isiah Thomas (1981-82), Damon Stoudamire (1995-96), Allen Iverson (1996-97) and Trae Young (2018-19) as one of seven rookies in NBA history to average at least 17.0 points per game and 7.0 assists per game.

Morant increased his averages to 19.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and a league-best 9.9 assists during the NBA’s eight-game seeding schedule at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World in Orlando. He finished the season by registering a game-high 35 points and eight assists in the Grizzlies’ play-in game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Aug. 15.

The 21-year-old Morant won three consecutive NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month Awards to open the season and became the second player in franchise history to be named NBA Rookie of the Year (Pau Gasol in 2001-02). He set franchise rookie records this season for assists per game, total assists (488) and assists in a single game (14, twice), helping the Grizzlies set single-season club records for assists (26.9, 2nd in the NBA) and number of 30-assist games (20).

As a rookie, Morant emerged as one of the NBA’s top scorers in fourth quarters, totaling 433 points in final periods, which ranked seventh in the league behind James Harden (511), Trae Young (496), LeBron James (493), Damian Lillard (459), Giannis Antetokounmpo (448) and Donovan Mitchell (438). Morant averaged 7.0 points in fourth quarters, joining Allen Iverson (7.0 in 1996-97) as the only rookies to average at least 7.0 fourth-quarter points since the league began keeping quarterly statistics at the start of the 1996-97 season.

The South Carolina native was selected by NBA assistant coaches to participate in the NBA Rising Stars as part of NBA All-Star Weekend 2020 and helped lead the U.S. Team to a 151-131 victory over the World Team on Feb. 14 at the United Center in Chicago.

Morant, who played two years collegiately at Murray State University, received the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy, named in honor of one of the NBA’s founders, during tonight’s TNT broadcast. Gottlieb coached the Philadelphia Warriors to the NBA’s first championship in 1946-47.

Grizzlies to play the Trail Blazers in NBA play-in round

The Memphis Grizzlies have clinched the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference and will face the No. 8 seed Portland Trail Blazers in a play-in round that will tip-off on Saturday, August 15 at 1:30 p.m. (all times Central) at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Saturday’s game will be televised nationally on ABC.

Under the NBA’s play-in format, the No. 8 seed would need to win one of two games against the No. 9 seed to advance to the 2020 Western Conference Playoffs. The No. 9 seed would need to defeat the No. 8 seed twice. A second play-in game, if necessary, would be played Sunday, Aug. 16 at 3:30 p.m. and would be televised on ESPN.

The winner of the play-in round would face the No. 1 seed Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the 2020 Western Conference Playoffs.

Eric Hasseltine will call play-by-play action for each play-in game on the team’s flagship radio station 92.9 FM ESPN alongside analyst Elliot Perry with all radio broadcasts presented by Sonic Drive-In. Grind City Media’s Jessica Benson will host the pregame, halftime and postgame shows. Play-in games also will be available on the Grizzlies’ Regional Radio Network.

Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. suffers season-ending knee injury

The Memphis Grizzlies today provided the following medical update on Grizzlies forward/center Jaren Jackson Jr.:

In Monday’s game against the Pelicans, Jaren Jackson Jr. experienced an unstable landing after making contact with an opposing player while contesting a shot. Subsequent medical evaluation revealed a meniscus tear in his left knee, which will cause him to miss the remainder of the season.

Per the Memphis Commercial Appeal, “it’s the same knee he injured on Feb. 21 against the Lakers that caused him to miss nine games.”

The Grizzlies have lost their first three games at the Disney NBA bubble for the season restart. They’re currently 8th in the Western conference, but the Trail Blazers and Spurs are just two game behind them in the standings.

Per ESPN.com, “the eighth and ninth-place teams in the West will play against one another in a play-in tournament later this month at the conclusion of the eight seeding games — assuming there are four games or fewer between the two teams, something that is all but guaranteed to happen now.”

Jackson Jr. is one of the team’s key young stars. His season average is 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game, shooting 46.9% FG and 39.4% from three-point range.

The team being without him puts even more pressure on the shoulders of star rookie guard Ja Morant.

Trail Blazers squeeze out 140-135 overtime win vs Grizzlies

The NBA restart at Disney Wide World of Sports in Florida began Thursday. On Friday, the Western conference 9th-seed Blazers squeezed out a tough 140-135 overtime win against a Grizzlies team that is currently just above them in the standings at 8th. Here’s Blazers.com reporting:

Playing for the first time this season with both Jusuf Nurkić and Zach Collins in the starting lineup, the Trail Blazers got off to a quick start Friday afternoon by shooting 62 percent from the field in the first quarter quarter. Had the Grizzlies not shot five more free throws and made twice as many three-pointers, Portland would have entered the second quarter leading by more than the 35-30.

The free throw discrepancy only got worse in the second quarter, with the Grizzlies being awarded 15 trips to the line compared to just five for the Trail Blazers. Even with Memphis being gently guided to the charity stripe seemingly every offensive possession, Portland still managed to take a 12-point lead, their largest of the game, before taking a 68-60 advantage into the intermission…

“We all knew coming in it was going to be a battle,” said Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard. “They’re a really high energy, young team, they play fast, they play hard… We kept our minds in it and once it came down to it, I think we showed we was the team that wanted it more.”

The Trail Blazers are now 30-37 overall and 1-0 in Orlando. More importantly, the win, along with the associated loss, gets the Trail Blazers to within 2.5 games of the Grizzlies for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West with seven “seeding games” to play.

Grizzlies forward Justise Winslow done for season with hip injury

During Monday’s practice, Memphis Grizzlies forward Justise Winslow fell after absorbing contact during an intra-squad scrimmage. Medical evaluation revealed a hip injury, which will cause him to miss the rest of the season.

Winslow is expected to make a full recovery, the team says.

Injuries have wrecked his season. After being traded by the Heat to the Grizzlies in February, Winslow has yet to suit up for Memphis.

Today, Winslow tweeted the following: “Last night during a scrimmage, I experienced a contact injury in my hip that unfortunately will keep me out until next season. I was excited to join my brothers on the court & will be supporting them throughout. I’m focused on coming back 100% towards a full recovery.”

The Grizzlies, who at 32-33 are 8th in the Western conference, are one of 22 teams the NBA has included in their restart plan. League scrimmages begin this week, and “seeding games” for the playoffs start next Thursday, July 30.

Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant says he got stronger during NBA break

Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant has reportedly added strength to his frame. Here’s ESPN.com reporting:

Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant, the Rookie of the Year front-runner, feels like he’s ready to take off after making physical improvements during the NBA’s hiatus.

Morant, who is listed at 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, said he added 12 pounds during the three-plus-month break. He also believes his right knee, which was repaired in a minor arthroscopic surgery last June, is stronger now than it has been throughout a rookie campaign highlighted by spectacular dunks…

“I’m stronger, can absorb contact and those things,” Morant said.

Morant is still the favorite to win NBA Rookie of the Year. Zion Williamson is also a fantastic rookie but his season got off to a very late start due to injury, and now with league play shortened, Morant clearly deserves the award.

Seeing Morant stonger is just yet another fun thing to look forward to during the NBA’s restart, which if all goes according to plan is exactly four weeks away.

With NBA signings back on, Grizzlies add forward Anthony Tolliver

The Memphis Grizzlies have signed forward Anthony Tolliver for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

Signed by Memphis to a 10-day contract on March 2, Tolliver (6-8, 240) has appeared in five games and has averaged 5.4 points and 2.4 rebounds in 19.2 minutes for the Grizzlies. The 35-year-old has competed in 33 games (nine starts) this season and has averaged 3.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in 15.6 minutes for Portland, Sacramento and Memphis.

Undrafted in the 2007 NBA Draft following his collegiate career at Creighton, the Springfield, Missouri native has appeared in 711 games (101 starts) over his 12-year NBA career and has averaged 6.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in 19.6 minutes while shooting 37.3 percent from three-point range.