Revamped and youthful Memphis Grizzlies ready to get to work
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The remaking of the Memphis Grizzlies began the day after last season ended for them in April. That’s when a new front office staff began making moves at an almost dizzying pace.
Shipping off the popular and well-paid Mike Conley to Utah was the biggest of the seven trades Memphis made to overhaul the roster, stockpile draft picks and start creating salary cap space.
“Who knew you could make so many trades?” Zach Kleiman, the executive vice president of basketball operations, asked rhetorically Monday during the Grizzlies’ media day.
And Kleiman is not done yet.
The Andre Iguodala situation has to be resolved. He is technically on the Grizzlies’ roster, even though both Memphis and Iguodala have agreed he will stay away during training camp.
The Grizzlies now are much younger with their future in the hands of Jaren Jackson Jr., the No. 4 pick overall of 2018; Ja Morant, the second overall pick in June; and first-time head coach Taylor Jenkins who led Memphis to the Summer League championship.
Dillon Brooks, who needed surgery to fix a ruptured ligament in his right big toe in January, said everyone needs to understand Memphis is moving in the right direction. It’s time to get on board.
“If you’re not going in the right direction in Memphis, we’re going to get you up out of here,” Brooks said.
Some things to know as the Grizzlies open training camp Tuesday at home:
Jackson is just happy not to be a rookie anymore and is finally getting used to the length of an NBA season. He played 58 games and averaged 13.8 points in 58 games before an injured right quadriceps muscle ended his debut season.
“I mean I enjoy being a sophomore,” Jackson said.
Neither Jackson nor Morant played for the Grizzlies during the Summer League, which Memphis won with Jenkins coaching. Morant now is ready for training camp after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in June. The guard out of Murray State says he’s excited to “just touch the floor” finally with the Grizzlies.
GRIZZLIES’ NEW LOOK
Jenkins won’t be trying to continue the Grit and Grind style that Memphis used during its playoff streak. Jenkins says he wants to play defense while also spreading the court on offense. He wants the Grizzlies unafraid to shoot away from 3, even if the result is an occasional miss. Jenkins knows it will be different from what Grizzlies’ fans have seen.
“Hopefully, the fans are really excited about our kind of next generation of style of play, you know next generation of players that we have here,” Jenkins said.
STAY AWAY IGUODALA
The 2015 NBA Finals MVP is listed on the Grizzlies’ website with the rest of the team because of a trade that netted Memphis a conditional first-round draft pick in 2024. The veteran due more than $17 million is staying away after an agreement with the Grizzlies who want more than just buying out Iguodala, 35. The 31-year-old Kleiman joked he couldn’t have someone around who’s older than he is.
“We’re going to be patient with that situation,” Kleiman said. “It will resolve itself in due course.”
WHAT ABOUT JACKSON
Another trade pickup is Josh Jackson, the No. 4 overall pick of the 2017 NBA draft. But Jackson, obtained in a deal allowing Phoenix to dump some salary, won’t be in camp with the Grizzlies. Instead, Jackson will be with the team’s G League affiliate, the Hustle. Jackson averaged just 12.3 points in two seasons with the Suns and was detained this summer when police say he refused to leave a music festival VIP area he had entered without a pass.
Kleiman said he talked with Jackson last week with Jackson willing to do whatever the Grizzlies ask.
The Grizzlies announced late last week that De’Anthony Melton, acquired in the trade with Phoenix, could miss up to eight weeks with a stress reaction in his back. Kyle Anderson, who signed a four-year, $37.2 million deal before last season, said he doesn’t expect to take part in training camp. He had thoracic outlet decompression surgery on his right shoulder in April.