Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies are hungry for a deeper playoff run after winning a franchise-record 56 games last season.
Ja Morant, the All-Star point guard, grabbed a professional camera to photograph his colleagues, even turning the focus on reporters covering the Memphis Grizzlies’ media day on Monday.
In his second NBA season, Ziaire Williams took a disposable camera off the platform and urged everyone to grin.
It’s safe to argue that the youthful Memphis Grizzlies are still just as confident, eager, and, yes, ready for the bigger lights that come with establishing the NBA’s second-best record and advancing to the Western Conference playoffs.
This resulted in many more national TV games for the Grizzlies, including a desired Christmas Eve matchup versus the reigning champions, the Golden State Warriors.
“I’m incredibly pleased of our group for how serious we took this summer and how serious each person took on themselves to become better, and it’ll help us be a stronger team as long as everybody improves,” said Morant, who was named All-Star and NBA Most Improved Player last season.
After Golden State terminated Memphis’ season in six games the final three sans an injured Morant Grizzlies general manager Zach Kleiman made it plain that money would not deter him from keeping his core intact. Kyle Anderson and De’Anthony Melton have been replaced by veteran Danny Green and three draft selections.
After Morant’s third season, Kleiman signed him to a five-year, supermax contract, as well as a deal for veteran guard Tyus Jones. Kleiman said that they like to grow via the draft and are confidence in the players they’ve acquired.
“We’re proud of what we accomplished this offseason,” Kleiman added.
Jaren Jackson Jr. will not play for the Grizzlies to begin the season. Kleiman put an end to conjecture regarding when Jackson acquired the stress fracture in his right foot, stating that Jackson was practicing elsewhere at the time and quickly informed team authorities about the issue.
Memphis estimated that Jackson will be back in four to six months after surgery on June 30. Kleiman said that the initial timetable for Jackson’s comeback has not altered. Jackson informed reporters that he will not be available for the Oct. 19 opener against the New York Knicks.
“You’ll like it,” Jackson stated when he returned.
YEARS OF CONTRACT
Three players on the Grizzlies are entering contract years: center Steven Adams, forward Dillon Brooks, and guard Brandon Clarke. Money wouldn’t be a problem keeping the Memphis core intact, Kleiman said earlier this year.
When asked what attributes he looks for in a power forward who plays next to him, Adams quipped that he didn’t even know whether he’d be starting. Brooks wants to be available after injuries only allowed him to play in 32 games the previous season. Although Clarke said he was reluctant to say the wrong thing, it is evident that he wants to remain in Memphis.
We’ll see how this develops, but we see them as possible long-term members of this group, Kleiman added.
The Grizzlies saw three players gain votes for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, which was won by Morant, with Desmond Bane coming in fifth and Jackson coming in tenth.
Williams, who started 31 of 62 games as a rookie, is a contender, with coaches promising him greater playing time. Guard-forward John Konchar, who signed a three-year agreement this winter, is another possibility, as is 6-foot-11 Santi Aldama.
GRIZZLIES GET YOUNGER
Memphis has six rookies in training camp, including four draft choices. This group features Wake Forest player Jake LaRavia, Colorado State guard David Roddy, and Memphis native Kennedy Chandler, who played at Tennessee in college.
Kenneth Lofton Jr., a 6-8, 275-pound forward out of Louisiana Tech who flashed during summer league, is another interesting potential for the Grizzlies.
DANNY, HOW ARE YOU?
In prior years, the Grizzlies had a slew of veterans that never made it to Memphis, including Andre Iguodala, who never played for them before being dealt to Miami in February 2020.
Green, who was acquired in a trade on draft night, will remain with the team. Green claims several clubs didn’t believe he’d be back this season after suffering a knee injury in mid-May. He said that he and Memphis believe he can return when it counts the most and also assist these young Grizzlies with his expertise.
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