Grizzlies play hardball with Xavier Henry for no good reason

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Thumbnail image for grizzlies_logo.gifThe Memphis Grizzlies threw $84 million at Rudy Gay this summer because he has potential to be a team leader. Because we’re sure that outside shot will come around. Right?

But the team’s top draft pick Xavier Henry sat out summer league and remains unsigned in a battle over $336,700.

This is why, as much as we want to believe, it’s hard to take the Memphis Grizzlies seriously.

The Grizzlies drafted Henry No. 12 overall out of Kansas. One thing the NBA has put in is a slotted rookie salary scale, with the goal of avoiding the ugly lockouts the NFL sees every year over players who have yet to play a down.

Henry’s No. 12 slot is for $1,683,500 next season. However, the deal allows the team to pay between 80 percent and 120 percent of that number. It is standard operating procedure for teams to pay the 120 percent figure. Every first rounder gets that, has for years.

Except now with Henry. It was rumored in Vegas Grizzlies are offering the 100 percent salary with the other 20 percent based on incentives. Nobody knows for sure, but they are not offering the full 120 percent that is standard.

The Grizzlies are drawing a line in the sand to save $336,70. That is NBA chump change. And over a player that will already be a great value at his price.

Henry did not play in the Summer League for Memphis because he didn’t have a signed deal on the advice of his agent Arn Tellem. That was largely out of principal, guys play in Summer League all the time with deals not signed.

But this is simply ridiculous. Henry missed Summer League — a chance to learn the system and get some experience along side OJ Mayo and Hasheem Thabeet — so that the Grizzlies could save a few hundred thousand on a contract that is a formality. I’m not the only person who thinks this is crazy, Mike Prada summed up the feelings of a lot of fans.

There was not a lot of good news out of Vegas for Memphis fans: Mayo is not going to play point guard, he had no feel for the position even at the Summer League level of competition; Grizzlies coaches said they were happy with Thabeet’s improvement, however I spoke with talent evaluators from other teams in Vegas who remain unimpressed with Thabeet. And I watched small forwards get rebounds away from him. (Sam Young was a legitimate bright spot, if you’re looking for one.)

Henry could have been an upbeat bit of news, the guy can play.

But the Grizzlies have been penny wise and pound foolish all summer. That’s why they are the Grizzlies.

Joel Embiid scores over Carmelo Anthony, then they exchange words (VIDEO)

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Joel Embiid gives zero… well, you know where I’m going with that.

Embiid trolls the world and backs down from no man, and that includes Carmelo Anthony. Late in the fourth quarter of the barn burner between the Thunder and 76ers Friday night, Embiid backed ‘Melo down and scored over him, then did a little jawing — which Anthony didn’t appreciate.

I love that Embiid egged on the Sixers crowd after this. He knows his audience.

Embiid talks a lot — A LOT — but he is backing it up.

For example, in the first overtime Russell Westbrook thought he made a drive that was going to win the game, and Embiid rejected him.

If you did not watch this game, go find a replay. This is the new best game of the season.

Rudy Gobert leaves game vs. Celtics with likely knee sprain. Again.

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Rudy Gobert missed 11 games this season due to a bone bruise in his knee. While the Jazz defense suffered as should have been expected with their anchor gone, their offense found a groove without him — and with more Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors — resulting in Utah going 7-4 with their star center out.

Now the Jazz will be without him again for a while — he seems to have sprained his left knee just minutes into Friday night’s game against the Celtics when Favors fell back into him. That is the same knee he injured before. Gobert was forced to leave and will not return to the game.

If that diagnosis holds, it will be weeks again the Jazz will be without Gobert.

The Jazz know how to play without Gobert. Favors moves to center and while he’s not near the same defender his offensive skills got them buckets and opened up the floor. The rookie Mitchell, as well as Ricky Rubio at points, took advantage of it to give the Jazz a top-10 offense with Gobert out. They need to find that groove again.

Still, Utah needs Gobert back and himself to really reach the heights they are capable of.

Veteran NBA official Monty McCutchen to be head of referee development, training

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After 25 seasons running up and down the NBA hardwood and refereeing more than 1,400 games, NBA official Monty McCutchen got a promotion.

He officiated his last game Thursday night in Minnesota and will move to a desk at the league office where his new title is Vice President, Head of Referee Development and Training.

“Monty has earned the respect of players, coaches and his peers during an exemplary career as an NBA official,” said Senior Vice President, Head of Referee Operations Michelle D. Johnson (who started on the job in October).  “He understands as well as anyone what it takes to be an outstanding referee and how the league can best support its officials.  With his wealth of insight and experience, Monty is uniquely suited for a leadership role in our officiating program.”

“I’m excited for the opportunity to channel my passion for the officiating profession in a new way,” McCutchen said.  “While I’ll miss officiating games, I’m grateful to continue working with our incredibly talented referee staff as part of an organization so dedicated to excellence and innovation.”

Despite what some fans like to blast on Twitter (especially during the playoffs), NBA officials are the best trained and flat-out best basketball referees in the world (if you don’t think so, watch the college/scab referees from the last lockout of the refs, it was painful). Could they improve? Sure. Hopefully, McCutchen can help do that in his new position.

Kristaps Porzingis officially day-to-day, questionable vs. OKC

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Knicks fans can exhale now.

There was understandable concern after face of the franchise Kritaps Porzingis had to leave the game in Brooklyn Thursday night following a non-contact injury.

Turns out there is nothing to worry about. After the game, Porzingis spoke to the media and was standing on the leg, a good sign. By Friday, after a day of treatment, he was doing well. Officially Porzingis is day-to-day and may sit out Carmelo Anthony‘s return to Madison Square Garden Saturday, but the injury is nothing serious. Ian Begley of ESPN has the details.

Porzingis’ knee was “worked on” on Friday and the discomfort in his knee decreased, league sources told ESPN. It is unclear if Porzingis underwent an MRI or had X-rays to further determine the extent of the injury but sources say he did not undergo significant testing because it wasn’t warranted based on the state of the injury.

Good. We don’t need another star down with a major injury this season.

Especially Porzingis, who has led the Knicks to a 15-13 record (sixth in the East, in the playoffs) while putting up All-Star numbers: 25.5 points per game, shooting 39.5 percent from three, plus grabbing 6.6 rebounds a game. Maybe more impressive is how he has anchored a solid Knicks defense this season with his rim protection. Stay healthy and he should make his first All-Star team this season.