Memphis Grizzlies’ injury issues deepen after blowout loss vs. Lakers

The Memphis Grizzlies are getting closer to the return of all-star point guard Ja Morant with each passing game, but how much will it matter with all of the present injury issues?Marcus Smart and Luke Kennard both exited the Grizzlies’ 134-107 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, flipping the depth chart. Earlier in the season, the frontcourt was depleted.

After losing Steven Adams in the preseason and Brandon Clarke rehabilitating from an Achilles injury sustained last March, Memphis was without Santi Aldama and Xavier Tillman Sr. Because of all of these ailments, the Grizzlies placed Morant on the suspension exempt list and signed Bismack Biyombo.Because of frontcourt depth difficulties, Biyombo’s signing was important. Memphis was thought to prefer adding guard depth if the additional roster space was used during Morant’s suspension.

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Memphis (2-9) could certainly use that depth right now. Along with Morant, Derrick Rose is out indefinitely, despite being given a week-to-week designation by Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins.Smart returned to the bench on Tuesday with a boot on his left foot to watch the game with his teammates. Boots are commonly worn as a precaution for ankle injuries, but Smart’s condition will be closely monitored. Jenkins stated after the game that Smart will be re-evaluated before his condition is determined.The Grizzlies’ present problems do not stop with injuries. Against Memphis, teams continue to shoot atrocious 3-point percentages.

The Lakers were 28th in the NBA in 3-pointers made and 23rd in 3-point percentage entering Tuesday. They finished with the highest 3-point field goal percentage in an NBA game with at least 35 tries, setting an NBA record. L.A. made 22 of 35 3-point attempts.However, these concerns may be traced back to a lack of depth and continuity on the squad throughout the first 11 games.The only other healthy point guard on the Grizzlies’ roster is Jacob Gilyard. He started the previous three games. Gilyard, who is on a two-way contract, is only eligible to play in 50 of the Grizzlies’ 82 regular-season games unless he gets upgraded to a normal contract. He’s participated in all 11 thus far.

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Kennard, Desmond Bane, and John Konchar are Grizzlies guards who have played on the ball, but the franchise likes to keep them off the ball in their best roles. That’s why Gilyard, rather than Ziaire Williams or Kennard, was named to the starting lineup alongside Smart and Bane.Kennard was forced to exit the game due to left knee pain, but Jenkins indicated that his absence was more precautionary.Off the bench, Konchar had six assists against the Lakers. He’ll most likely be the next player in the key ball-handling rotation. When he was deployed in a similar role, he had a career-high 10 assists in an April 2022 game against the Boston Celtics.

The Grizzlies return to action on Saturday against the San Antonio Spurs. They’ll return to Memphis before heading to San Antonio. Those days will be valuable in figuring out how to overcome the current depth issues.Ja Morant is relying on emoticons to say more than words.The Memphis Grizzlies star is currently suspended and out of the game, as he is unable to attend his team’s games. Morant took to X, formerly known as Twitter, after a contentious start to the Grizzlies’ game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Lakers center Anthony Davis shoved Grizzlies forward Santi Aldama, resulting in a total of five technical fouls between the two teams. Morant then merely uploaded a smiley face emoji and a bear in another picture shortly after.Morant is usually one of the first players to come to his teammates’ defense. Desmond Bane, a Grizzlies guard, met Davis face to face after Aldama was pushed.By the third quarter, the game had gotten out of hand. Memphis trailed by 23 points at halftime, and backcourt injuries to Luke Kennard and Marcus Smart have harmed the team’s depth.

Morant made another post of an hourglass as the Lakers pulled away with a 20-plus point advantage in the third quarter.Morant is expected to return for the Grizzlies on December 19 against the New Orleans Pelicans.