Memphis Grizzles have checked out of the season

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You know how we spent much of the season saying what a nice young team the Memphis Grizzles have become. They have Marc Gasol and O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay. Zach Randolph just had the best season of his career. They have potential.

They have quit. Packed it in. Mailing in the rest of the season. That’s not just me speaking (but I would), it’s the coach and a columnist at the Commercial Appeal.

These Grizzlies are in position to take a step out of mediocrity if they choose to finish the season with all-out effort. Yet what’s been on display with losses in six of their last seven games is a lack of maturity and mental toughness on the floor…

“Dallas, San Antonio — they’re still playing for their playoff lives,” (Grizzlies coach Lionel) Hollins said after the Dallas debacle. “They’re coming out and playing hard. Are we willing to make that sacrifice and play that hard? It hasn’t shown in the last seven games that we are willing to do that.”

It’s not uncommon this time of year for teams to mentally check out. But last night one young team that has lost a lot of games, Sacramento, kept executing and putting out the effort against a Clippers team that on paper should be the better squad. But the Clippers have quit.

With young teams, it’s a good sign when they haven’t quit. With Memphis, who is playing to finish the season above .500 it is the opposite.

Chris Paul, after breaking finger, intends to play in Clippers preseason game tomorrow

Chris Paul
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Chris Paul broke his finger Saturday.

The initial diagnosis said the injury wasn’t serious.

Here’s confirmation.

Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:

Paul obviously wouldn’t push it during the preseason. If the Clippers are allowing him to play, this can’t be bad.

Really, the most challenging aspect to this is grasping the concept that a broke finger can be a minor injury.

Report: David Lee, Tyler Zeller in line to start for Celtics; Jared Sullinger, Jonas Jerebko out of rotation

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 08: David Lee of Boston Celtics attacks during the friendlies of the NBA Global Games 2015 basketball match between Real Madrid and Boston Celtics at Barclaycard Center on October 8, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Brad Stevens has a big challenge this year – sorting the Celtics’ deep roster of similarly able players.

It seems that process is shaking out at power forward and center.

A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

it appears Boston’s first four bigs will be starters David Lee and Tyler Zeller, with Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk off the bench.

That leaves Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger, potentially on the outside looking in as far as the regular rotation is concerned.

Lee is the best passer of the bunch, which could partially explain why he’s starting. Boston’s most likely starting point guard, Marcus Smart, is still growing into the role of the lead ball-handler at the NBA level. Lee and presumptive starting shooting guard Avery Bradley can take some pressure off him.

Olynyk can space the floor for Isaiah Thomas-Johnson pick-and-rolls with the reserves and run pick-and-pops with Thomas himself.

I’m a little surprised Zeller is starting over Johnson, though. The Celtics just signed Johnson to a $12 million salary, and I thought they’d rely on his defense to set a tone early. Like Johnson, Zeller is a quality pick-and-roll finisher who can thrive with Thomas.

This is particularly bad news for Sullinger, who – barring a surprising contract extension – is entering a contract year. It seems those reports of offseason conditioning haven’t yet paid off. Jerebko’s deal also isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, but at least he has already gotten his mid-sized payday. Sullinger is still on his rookie-scale contract.