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Memphis Grizzlies Lose Point Guard Marcus Smart for Several Weeks

Veteran point guard Marcus Smart will miss three to five weeks with a left foot injury, which is bad news for the struggling Memphis Grizzlies.

Grizzlies Marcus Smart injury
Memphis Grizzlies guard Marcus Smart went down with a foot injury against the Los Angeles Lakers at Arena. (Image: Getty)

Smart exited a game against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half last week with a foot injury. X-rays were negative, but an MRI revealed a left foot strain.

The Grizzlies were already short-handed, with All-Star point guard Ja Morant serving a 25-game suspension for various incidents involving firearms and social media.

Smart, a former NBA Defensive Player of the Year, joined the Grizzlies in an offseason trade with the Boston Celtics. The Grizzlies were relying on a veteran floor general like Smart to keep the team afloat until Morant returned.

The Grizzlies struggled without Morant and started the season at 0-6. They currently have a 3-10 record.

The Grizzlies are tied for last place in the Western Conference with the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers. The Washington Wizards (2-10) are the only team in the NBA with fewer wins than the Grizzlies.

Morant is eligible to return on December 19. But the Grizzlies have to endure 12 more games without him. Smart could potentially be out until the end of December.

Grind City Add Veterans Smart and Rose

While the Grizzlies were experiencing their off-court drama with Morant, the organization brought in two veteran point guards to provide stability and leadership to the locker room. The Grizzlies acquired Smart in a three-team trade with the Wizards that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Celtics.

You always want to be where you’re wanted, and another team’s trash is another team’s gold,” Smart told The Athletic the preseason. “So, I’m glad to be here. Glad to be on an organization that wants me and sees  great value.”

Head coach Taylor Jenkins wanted Smart to be himself — a hard-nosed defender and a brash, no-nonsense veteran — while the Grizzlies navigated the first 25 games without Morant.

Smart averaged 12.5 points,5.0 assists, and 2.0 steals per game in 11 games this season. He shot a career-best 42.9% from the floor, but struggled to connect from deep at 29.5% from 3-point range.

The Grizzlies signed Rose, a former MVP, in the off-season. He appeared in only one game in November due to a sore knee, but he averaged 8.2 points and 2.4 assists per game in limited action off the bench.

Smart being sidelined with a foot injury is a huge blow, especially with Rose dealing with his own health issues. The Grizzlies also lost center Steven Adams, one of the top offensive rebounders in the NBA, for the entire season while he recovers from knee surgery.

Next Man Up: Konchar and Gilyard

The Grizzlies parted ways with feisty veteran Dillon Brooks in the off-season. Jenkins has been shuffling his lineup to find the right backcourt combo to pair with shooting guard Desmond Bane after Smart went down.

John Konchar, who is in his fifth season with the Grizzlies, started in the last two games. Konchar averages 3.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game, while shooting 40% from 3-point range. Konchar started 23 games last season when Bane sustained a toe injury.

Second-year guard Jacob Gilyard, who was undrafted out of Richmond, started four games this season for the Grizzlies. Gilyard averaged 4.4 points and 3.3 assists this season, while knocking down 48.3% of his 3-pointers.

Vince Williams, a 2022 second-round draft pick out of VCU, logged 17 minutes off the bench against the Celtics on Sunday. Williams averaged 3.6 points per game this season.

Betting the Morant-Less Grizzlies

The Grizzlies secured the #2 seed in the Western Conference in each of the previous two seasons. Despite their recent prominence in the regular season, the Grizzlies failed to advance to the conference finals. The Lakers, with the #7 seed, knocked out the Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs last season.

In the last three postseasons, the Grizzlies won just five games. They were a first-round bust out in the 2021 NBA Playoffs as a #8 seed, and they were eliminated in the second round by the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Playoffs.

The Grizzlies are seeking a third-straight Southwest Division title. They entered the regular season as a slight divisional favorite a +140 odds, and ahead of the Dallas Mavericks (+200), New Orleans Pelicans (+220), Houston Rockets (+4000), and Spurs (+6500).

The Mavs occupy first place in the division with a 9-5 record, and are the consensus favorite to win the Southwest at -215 odds, followed by the Pelicans (6-7) at +500, Rockets (6-5) at +800, and Grizzlies at +1600. The Rockets surprised a lot of teams with a 6-3 start, but have since dropped two games in a row.

During the preseason, the Grizzlies were +3000 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA Championship. After their slow start, the Grizzlies saw their title odds slip to +12000. They’re now +5500 odds to win the Western Conference.

The Grizzlies have a 5-8 record against the point spread, and are tied for the sixth-worst ATS record in the NBA after the first 13 games of the season. They play the Rockets in Houston on Wednesday, before returning home to Memphis for a three-game homestand against the Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Utah Jazz.

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Memphis Grizzlies Center Steven Adams to Miss Entire Season

The NBA season has yet to tip off, and we already have the first major casualty. Memphis Grizzlies center Steven Adams will miss the entire season while recovering from surgery to fix a lingering right knee injury.

Grizzlies Steven Adams
Memphis Grizzlies center Steven Adams will miss the entire season due to a PCL injury. (Image: USA Today Sports)

Adams, 30, missed 40 games in the second half of last season with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in his right knee. He didn’t undergo surgery at the time.

During the preseason, Adams appeared in two games but he didn’t return to his old form. The Grizzlies and Adams determined knee surgery is the best path forward.

A non-operative rehabilitation did not resolve ongoing knee instability,” said the Grizzlies in an official statement.

After losing Adams, the Grizzlies will begin the new season without two key starters from last year. Point guard Ja Morant will miss the first 25 games of the season while he serves a suspension for brandishing a firearm on social media.

In the offseason, the Grizzlies acquired veteran point guard Marcus Smart from the Boston Celtics. They added Smart in a three-team trade with the Washington Wizards that sent center Kristaps Porzingis to the Celtics.

Smart, a former Defensive Player of the Year, will hold down point guard duties until Morant returns.

Adams Out, Tillman Next Man Up

The Grizzlies thought Adams would sit out a few weeks with a PCL sprain when he initially sustained a knee injury in January. He missed the remainder of the season and didn’t suit up in the postseason.

At the time of his injury, Adams led the Grizzlies in rebounding. He was the top offensive rebounder (5.1 per game) in the NBA and was ranked #4 overall in the league in total rebounds (11.5). He also averaged 9.6 points and 2.3 assists per game.

Adams was the Grizzlies’ most valuable screener in pick-and-roll plays, which he often ran with guards Morant and Desmond Bane.

Brandon Clarke filled in for Adams last season until he tore his Achilles in March. The Grizzlies don’t have a timetable for Clarke’s return. He is expected to miss most of this upcoming season.

Head coach Taylor Jenkins will start Xavier Tillman at center, and Santi Aldama is currently his backup.

Tillman is a former standout from Michigan State and an early second-round pick from the 2020 NBA Draft. Tillman started 43 times over the last three seasons, including 29 games last year. He averaged 7.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in 19.3 minutes of action.

Aldama, a first-round draft pick from Loyola Maryland in the 2021 NBA Draft, started 20 games last season. Aldama averaged 9.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting 35.3% from 3-point range.

The Grizzlies also have forwards Kenneth Lofton (5.0 points, 2.1 rebounds), Jr., and David Roddy (6.7 points, 2.8 rebounds) listed on the depth chart at center.

Grizzlies Seek Third-Straight Division Title

Despite Morant’s off-the-court drama and injuries to frontline players like Adams and Clarke, the Grizzlies secured the #2 seed in the Western Conference last season with a 51-31 record. The Grizzlies made an early playoff exit when they were upset by the Los Angeles Lakers in six games in the first round.

The Grizzlies have a win total of 45.5 over/under games this season, mostly because of Morant’s 25-game suspension.

Oddsmakers have faith that the Grizzlies will qualify for the postseason. They’re -220 odds to make the playoffs and +170 odds to miss the playoffs.

The Grizzlies are +3000 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA championship. They’re +1400 odds to win the Western Conference title, and seventh on the futures board at DraftKings.

The Grizzles are seeking a third-straight division title, and they’re a marginal favorite to win the Southwest Division at +170 odds. They’re slightly ahead of the Dallas Mavericks at +190 odds, and the New Orleans Pelicans at +200. The Houston Rockets (+3500) and San Antonio Spurs (+5500) are long shots to win the division.

The Spurs are the longest shot on the board to win the Southwest Division, even though there’s significant hype around the #1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama.

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