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Grizzlies coach David Fizdale to lineup-change critics: ‘Kiss my a–‘

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Marc GasolMike Conley, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen have made the Grizzlies pretty darn good for a while.

New Memphis coach David Fizdale is trying to make them a little better.

With that in mind, Fizdale started Aaron Harrison and Brandan Wright over Allen and JaMychal Green against the Nets on Monday. James Ennis received a DNP-CD. Troy Daniels almost fell completely out of the rotation. Zach Randolph saw far fewer minutes than usual.

The result: A 122-109 loss to lowly Brooklyn, dropping the Grizzlies to 14-14 in the calendar year, and major questions about Fizdale’s experimentation.

Mike Ceide of WREG TV:


What I’m supposed to do? Settle for mediocrity and stay in a .500 mode and not do anything and just be OK with that? That’s the problem with the whole image of this group is that that’s been OK, and if we’re underdogs and we don’t win it, that’s OK. No. I won’t settle for that. I’ll continue to shuffle until I find something that works best to give us the best chance to hold the trophy. And if people don’t like it, they can kiss my a–.

I love Fizdale’s open-mindedness and frankness. He’s not afraid of implementing hard-hitting changes.

But Harrison and Wright? That’s probably too far outside the box.

The Grizzlies biggest problem has been Chandler Parsons, who remained in the starting lineup. Maybe that’s injury-related, and they just need to ride it out and hope he finds his stride. But that’s independent of Fizdale’s changes against the Nets.

I also believe Fizdale is incorrectly blaming Memphis’ mindset for the team only once advancing past the second round despite making the playoffs the last six years. The Grizzlies just never had the talent of the elite Western Conference teams in that span. Memphis was eliminated by teams featuring:

That said, there’s something healthy about the head coach refusing to admit his team is at a talent deficit. If Memphis’ roster is too lacking, there’s nothing left to do.

But if the Grizzlies have the underlying talent — or at least believe they do — they can try to play harder and smarter to tap it. Lineup changes might be the ticket.

Next time, just try something a little more likely to succeed than starting Harrison and Wright.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”


Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.