Posted on: November 20, 2023, 10:08h.
Last updated on: November 20, 2023, 10:24h.
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.
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 offseason. 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 offseason. 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.